Origin of IPs and how are they assigned

A proxy server is a server that allows a user to connect to it and use it’s own IP when identifying online (it can also have many other applications), but what are IP addresses anyway? How were they first created and assigned? What is a quality IP address?

What are IP addresses?

In today’s blog we are going to cover the very interesting subject of IPs.

First, there are two types of IPs, IPv4 and IPv6, they stand for Internet Protocol Version 4, and Internet Protocol Version 6.

When the web was first created it had many different internet protocols which allowed computers to communicate with each other and eventually IPv4 became the most popular protocol and was adopted as the standard.

Not many years afterwards the internet revolution began and the web has seen a massive booming of users in the size of which no one could have ever expected, soon experts realized that the 32-bit based IPV4 format which can only support 4 billion addresses from 0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255 will run out of addresses very fast (there are 22 billion internet connected devices as of December 2019) and a new solution had to be found.

This is where IPv6 comes into play, IPv6 is a 128-Bit protocol meaning it theoretically contains 340,282,366,920,938,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 unique IP addresses, this is more than 3 with 34 zeros and should sustain the web’s needs for a long, long (x34 long) time.

However, ever since the introduction of IPv6 adoption rates remained very slow, this is because IPv4 and IPv6 are not backward compatible, this means that software that was written to work with IPv4 will not work with IPv6 which is also why some websites do not support IPv6 at all.

This has brought the prices of IPv4 to increase and the use of techniques like NAT (Network Address Translation) to be introduced, NAT is when ISPs allocate the same IP to a number of devices at once and is a very good news for 4G proxies, as it means that a huge customer base (up to 28k) will have the same IP at a time, making these IP virtually impossible to blacklist – No company will ban tens of thousands of legitimate users just because one of them is using a bot.

 

How IPs are allocated

IANA is the Internet Assigned Number Authority and is the organization that is responsible for allocating IP addresses to local registrars, which in turn assign these IPs to ISPs (Internet Service Providers) such as At&T, Verizon or Comcast.

There are 5 local registrars responsible for different regions:

  1. LACNIC which serves most of the Caribbean and all of Latin America.
  2. APNIC which serves East Asia, Oceania, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.
  3. AFRINIC which serves Africa.
  4. ARIN which serves Antarctica, Canada, parts of the Caribbean, and the United States.
  5. RIPE NCC serves Europe, Central Asia, Russia, and West Asia.

ISP receives these IPs with an associated ASIN, an Autonomous System Number, that is used to correlate a specific IP address or block of IPs/subnet with a specific ISP, this helps keep track of which company owns which IP.

An ISP can have multiple ASNs, but an ASN can only be assigned to 1 ISP and an ASN can only be associated with one company.

However, large ISPs are usually made of multiple companies, so they will often hold multiple ASNs.

The ISPs then rent or lease these IPs to the end-user and you can use many websites such as whatismyip.com to find out which ISP owns your IP.

IANA is owned by ICANN, so to sum this up this is the way an IP gets assigned to the end-user:

ICANN => IANA => Local Registrar => ISP => Organization => User

 

How are IP geo locations are determined

Every IP address in the world is connected to a geographical location mainly so websites and advertisers can serve better targeted content to users even when they can’t access their GPS location.

There are multiple companies that are in charge of keeping track of the geolocation of each IP, as they sometimes change, some of these are DigitalElement, MaxMind and of course some of the big tech companies like Facebook and Google also keep their own databases.

Note that these companies are independent private companies and are not some central entity that is officially in charge of collecting this geolocation data, this is why this data is often inaccurate and why you will sometimes get different results from different IP check websites and is also why you will most likely get a geolocation result that can be a region that is very far away from your actual location, although they will usually get the country right.

Big technology companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon have more data and use more sophisticated techniques to track IP geolocation data and will more often have more accurate data.

 

So what is a quality IP address?

Except for the methods we discussed above, a big list of companies including Facebook and Google will also monitor every piece of traffic they can find that they can associate to a certain IP.

Basically, everything you do on the web is monitored and associated to your IP, remember that almost every IP in the world has already been used at least once by someone before you, so finding a clean “virgin” IP is nearly impossible.

This gets more complicated as ISP will almost always allocate IPs in blocks (the same subnet), so residential proxy providers will not only need to make these IPs produce traffic that looks organic but also be very very careful of not getting caught and blacklisting the entire IP subnet.

Another point worth mentioning is that most ISP will sell their data to big technology companies, literally telling them which company owns which IP address.

So, A quality IP is an IP address which:

  1. Owned by an ISP which is not selling its data to big tech.
  2. Is rented officially (by the ISP) to a user, not a company.
  3. Is producing real organic constantly and has never been blacklisted before.

This IP is also known as a true residential IP.

Alternatively, the best quality IPs are IPs that are assigned to a huge number of users (not businesses) simultaneously (via CGNAT), this way the IP is overflown by traffic data and the technology companies that monitor these IPs are aware that it is used by hundreds to tens of thousands of people at once.

This makes your traffic disappear in the huge ocean of traffic and also makes the IP basically immune to blacklisting, since that would mean blocking access to a huge poll of real legitimate users.

With these IPs you can get your accounts banned, but you can never get the IP banned and since they are mobile IPs, you can also just reconnect to the network to get assigned a new IP in a few seconds.

 

These are also known as Mobile IPs (4G IPs).

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of IPs and proxies and can understand what they truly are and how to recognize a quality IP over a bad one.

May you never get banned again.