Using the internet requires an IP address that is given to you by your internet service provider (ISP). Depending on the internet plan you’re subscribed to, this IP address can either be static or dynamic. Regardless of the kind of IP address you have, if it has been assigned to you by your ISP, it’s called a public IP address.
This IP address holds information about you from the viewpoint of an internet user who is subscribed to a certain internet service. Not only is this IP address logged by various third parties as you browse the internet, but it also records the websites you visit.
While public IPs are pretty common, they also pose a variety of dangers. Irrespective of whether these public IPs are being used by organizations as a whole or individuals, the negative factors remain the same. They open up your device to be connected to the internet from anywhere and by anyone, and this includes the likes of cybercriminals. If your public IP falls in the wrong hands, it can pose a threat to most of your sensitive information, such as credit card details.
Why are Public IPs Unsafe?
Public IPs don’t let you hold on to your online privacy. Here are some of the reasons public IPs can be extremely dangerous and unsafe:
1. Exposes Your Physical Location
A public IP address, much like your home address, exposes your physical location. Although there are chances of it not always being accurate, unscrupulous third parties can use it to combine with information such as GPS movements and browsing history from your Internet Protocol or IP to get hold of your actual location. This becomes especially easy if it’s a static IP address, as those remain unchanged.
2. Makes You Susceptible to Hacker Attacks
Hackers and cybercriminals can find out a lot about you by knowing your public IP address. Apart from being able to decipher your location, competent hackers can put it to use in several ways. When your IP tracking information is combined with other surveillance information, cybercriminals can not only hack into your bank accounts but also your social media accounts and so on. This leaves you susceptible to monetary breaches, identity thefts, etc.
3. Subject You to Several Government and ISP Restrictions
Using a public IP address equates to exposing yourself to various government and ISP restrictions. The government can very easily monitor and spy on your online activities without encrypting your network connection.
Since your ISP is the one who’s in control of your internet, the government can choose to order the internet service provider to follow their regulations. Therefore, they will have to do just what the government orders, which includes risking your online privacy and restricting your internet access.
4. Breaches Your Network System
Having a public IP address is like browsing the internet barefoot without any protection whatsoever. Not only will you be prone to cyberattacks, but your device will be left unprotected even if you encounter malicious websites on the way. Your internet service provider won’t be able to do anything either in case your network system gets breached.
5. Leaves You Open to Being Spied on by Unscrupulous Third Parties
The data transmission that happens between devices over the internet is another thing that’s open to risks as far as public IPs are concerned. Regardless of whether the data is being transmitted from device-to-device or from a local device to cloud storage, protecting the data transmission is impossible when you’re using a public IP address.
Unscrupulous third parties will find a way to locate your network location, breach your system, and circumvent the data transmission process, thereby making the transfer of important files over the internet extremely difficult.
6. Monitors Your Browsing Activity
Your internet service provider has the liberty of charting your online activities as long as you’re using their internet service. This means that the government can request information about you from your ISP at any given time. Therefore, your online activities will be monitored by both your ISP as well as the government.
Every activity you cover over the internet, starting from the websites you visit and the videos you watch, to your online shopping transactions and conversations, will be open to be viewed by your ISP and the government.
Private IP Address: Alternative to Public IPs
The best alternative to public IPs is a private IP address. It can be defined as an IP address that’s designed for internal use behind a router or other devices with Network Address Translation (NAT).
Private IP addresses are also known as local IP addresses. They differ from public IPs in many ways, one of them being that they don’t have to be unique, which entails that other devices can use the same address, provided that they aren’t on the same network.
Devices registered on the private network cannot communicate with outside devices, thereby eliminating the risk of an address conflict. Data protection and privacy are the biggest reasons to use a private IP address. No data can enter or exit the private network as the devices on the network aren’t connected to the outside internet. Private IPs serve as the perfect setup for small businesses that handle a lot of data.
A major advantage of a private IP is that since it’s not connected to an external network, it’s free from any vulnerabilities that might be attached to the technical difficulties outside the network. A private IP remains unaffected by loss in internet connectivity or external server outages.
Therefore, a problem within the network can be solved by servicing the network equipment instead of having to wait for a server operator or Internet Service Provider.
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Using a public IP address is similar to opening up about all your precious information to every malicious website out there. Public IPs increase your chances of cyberattacks, privacy breaches, and identity thefts, among other things. Therefore, it’s best to avoid them as much as possible. Use a private IP and keep all your data safe without having the digital world know every crucial bit about you.