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Whether you have a static or dynamic IP depends on your ISP, and whether you want one or not. Some ISPs charge extra for a static IP address.

A dynamic IP is normally issued from a "pool" of IP addresses that is within a range owned by your ISP. Each time you log on you will be allocated an IP address from within the pool. When you log off the IP address goes back into the pool ready for the next user to log on.

A static IP address is one that you keep all the time.

There are advantages and disadvantages of both types. Personally I prefer a static IP and its something that I specifically looked for when choosing my ISP.

A static IP address allows you to run your own servers (such as mail, web, ftp) as it means that your IP address will always point to a specific place. One of the advantages for me (aside from the fact that I do run a server) is that I can log into my home PC from just about anywhere I like.

Some users have concerns about static IP's and think that dynamic addresses are safer.
Unfortunately this is a misconception, you are just as likely to be targeted by a wanabee hacker if you are on a dynamic IP. They get hold of an ISP's range of IP's and scan all IP's within that range looking for a vulnerable machine. Put it this way.. When I was with BTInternet I got scanned at least 10 times a day.

Other disadvantages of being on a dynamic IP address are that you may be unfortunate to be assigned an IP address that some idiot before you had. And all of a sudden you find yourself being a target of a DoS attack. (Yep had that happen too). Luckily this can be easily solved by logging off and logging back on again.

Something else I've found myself target to was being unable to read/post a forum I frequented. Turned out that someone on my IP range had been an idiot and the forum owner realising that the other user was on a dynamic IP.. banned all IP's within that range :/ No amount of logging on or off would cure that one :(

The other big misconception of a dynamic IP address is that users think they are safe and unable to be tracked if they carry out such activities as pr0n or p2p.
- Wrong, the relevant authorities only have to advise your ISP, who are able to track YOU down in an instant.

So how can you stop your IP address being shown on the likes of forums?
Well unless you use a proxy server you cant really, but to be fair most forums don't disclose this information and its only available to mods for control purposes.

One place where it will show up is when using IRC.. this doesn't worry me too much.. because I have a static IP I can control my rDNS to a certain extent. If someone really wants to get your IP address then they can. Every time you make direct contact with another internet user there is a risk they can get your IP address.

So what can someone do if they have your IP address?
Umm... well they can find out who your ISP is.
If you have been a bad boy on that IP then they can block you, or even try DoS you...
But guess what.. if they try DoS you.. or scan you... your firewall will advise you of their IP address and all you have to do is report them to their ISP, who will act on this information and they may loose their own internet connection. ;)

It is only your own ISP who has access to your IP address and your own personal information. Because of the Data Protection Act they can only disclose this to the relevant authorities such as the police when requested to do so.

Even using proxy IP's you can be tracked back to your true IP address if required by the authorities....
(Unless you know how to find and use an open http proxy which has been badly configured).

I hope I've put to rest some of your fears about "leaving tracks" with your IP address, unless you are worried about someone finding out which ISP you are with then as long as your PC is protected by a firewall and you aren't an idiot online then you don't have anything to worry about.

If you do abuse then its up to your ISP to take action.
All in all its a good thing (for the sake of our kids etc) that there are such things in place to protect the innocent.

 

 
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