Every internet-enabled device has an IP address so that “IPs” play a crucial role in the interconnected world. In this article, we will weigh up static IP addresses vs. dynamic addresses and how to use them.
The Internet Protocol (IP) enables communication over computer networks, a set of addressing and routing standards that ensure different devices can talk.
Before we dig deeper into what affects the usage of static and dynamic IP, let's explain the basic terms and what IP address is first.
- Internet protocol: A set of rules for how data travels across networks to arrive at the right designation.
- IP address: A unique code that gets assigned to a device each time it connects to the Internet.
- Local area network (LAN): A computer network that connects devices to one another in a limited area. Examples would be areas such as a large office.
- Wide area network (WAN): A communication network that extends over a large geographical area. The network is not limited to a single location.
- Dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP): A network server that automatically assigns IP addresses to devices.
- Network address translation (NAT): A way to map multiple local private addresses to a public one before transferring any data.
- Ransomware attack: This is when a type of malware threatens to publish your business data online or blocks access to your data until you pay them ransom.
What Is an IP address?
An IP address is a numerical identifier assigned to devices communicating on a computer network (LAN, WAN, Internet).
An IP address is like your home address. It’s how you receive old-school snail mail, and it's where mail gets sent to you. Your residential address is unique and contains your location information, just like an IP address does.
It comprises four 8-digit binary numbers (0,1), for simplification presented in a decimal range of 0-255 separated by periods (example 192.168.2.1).
How are IP addresses assigned
An IP address is assigned to a host statically - selected by an administrator - or dynamically using DHCP service.
The best practice is to manually assign a static IP address to the device where continuous availability is critical. All the other devices should be assigned a dynamic IP address via DHCP.
Also, if you have employees who work remotely and need continuous access to your business systems, you would need a static IP address - which you can choose when you use a cloud VPN like GoodAccess.
What Does This Mean for Your Business?
Unique IP addresses are assigned to all devices connecting to a network like the Internet. They allow your devices to communicate with one another.
There are two types of IP addresses:
- Static IP addresses
- Dynamic IP addresses
What Is a Static IP Address
A static IP address, also called fixed IP address, is a numerical identifier that remains changeless indefinitely when assigned to a device. This is a unique number that remains unchanged for however long you need it—much like your home address.
It is used when it is undesirable to change the address dynamically, typically when permanent access is required (e.g., access to servers, routers, printers).
What This Means for Your Business:
You can use a static IP address to do something called IP whitelisting, which is when you only allow one static IP address - assigned to all your devices - to access your business network.
There are two main options on how to get a static IP address:
➡️ Leasing a static IP address
You can rent a static IP address from your Internet Service Provider.
➡️ Getting a static IP address from a VPN service
In this scenario, your users directly connect to a gateway and then to the desired network services. All the traffic after the gateway is with the same fixed IP.
Alternatively, your router can be configured to communicate to the Internet exclusively through the gateway, comprising all traffic under the same static IP (multiple hosts share one IP address). If you want to dig a bit deeper, see this article that explains how a modern IPsec VPN / VPN with static IP works.
What This Means for Your Business:
You can either lease a static IP address from your ISP, or you can use one provided by a cloud VPN for businesses.
Using a static IP address along with a VPN allows you to control who can and cannot access your network.
How are static IP addresses used?
The most common static IP address use cases are restricting network access with IP whitelisting and enabling remote access (when you host a service inside your LAN and need to access it regardless of geographical constraints).
A static IP address is valuable to your business if you want to:
- Have a unique identification on the Internet and the possibility of IP whitelisting with no hassle.
- Avoid potential IP address conflicts WAN/LAN - the situation when two hosts are assigned with the same IP (which usually leads to one host being unable to communicate).
- Define firewall rules valid indefinitely (using a dynamic IP address would lead to updating the firewall rule every time the IP changes).
- Have your services hosted inside your LAN accessible from the public Internet.
- Have full responsibility for your IP reputation. Without a static IP, you use one of ISP’s shared dynamic IP addresses that don’t uniquely represent your network, and others might negatively affect your IP reputation. With Static IP, only you keep an eye on correct (r)DNS settings, IP reputation, correct IP geolocation and other parameters which is handy when you, ie. run an emailing service.
What Is a Dynamic IP Address?
A dynamic IP address is a numerical identifier assigned to a host (server, PC, laptop, mobile device, etc.) by DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) service to enable network communication.
In case you don't need a static IP for the particular device (typically smartphones, tablets, PCs) a dynamic IP address is an obvious choice.
Dynamic IPs will change based on your:
➡️ How long you have been connected to the Internet.
➡️ The different Wi-Fi networks you connect to.
The dynamic IP address is leased for a specified timeframe. After this period, the IP address becomes available to any other host that requests a new assignment (or a renewal) of an IP address - either when connecting to the network or after its previous IP lease time expired respectively (see figure 1).
So a different address can be assigned after this period (usually 24 hours, but this is a custom configuration) if the previous one is already in use by another host. This means that one host's address may change over time.
If your business devices have IP addresses that change, it becomes impossible to control which IP addresses can access your business systems and which cannot.
Pros and cons of using dynamic IP address:
- There is no need to restrict an IP address for any host on the network when not all hosts are connected simultaneously, so in theory, available IP range usage is optimized.
- Easy and automatic IP address assignment. If DHCP services are not used, each host would have to be manually assigned with a static IP address to communicate on the network. This is a time-consuming process, especially when the network scales. DHCP solves this problem by automatically assigning IP addresses.
- On the other hand, since a dynamic IP address doesn't represent an absolute unique identification of a device, network access control must be done using different means, such as Mac address, or better, user identity.
Static IP vs. Dynamic IP
Now that you know what each type of IP address involves, let’s compare the differences.
There is no simple answer to the question if it is better to have a static IP or dynamic IP.
Both have their significance, both enable network communication, but otherwise their purpose is different. Especially in a business environment.
If you are a common user, you probably don't care whether your IP address is static or dynamic (if you do, you can always check with Google, just type what's my IP address).
But if your job is networking in a company, you care about the accessibility of the services and IP ranges, must deal with IP conflicts, and generally ensure smooth communication over the network, the distinction "dynamic IP vs static IP" is very important.
When it comes to running a business securely, there is no question as to which type of IP address would work best for you.
A static IP address protects your business from the outside world and any potential threats. It gives you control over who is allowed to access your business remotely and automatically rejects unauthorized addresses.
Although it may take time to assign a static IP address to each business device, it is worth the added effort when your business data is protected from prying eyes.
The best part is that you can quickly and easily get a static IP address from GoodAccess.
Wrapping Up on Static vs. Dynamic IP Addresses
Both static and dynamic IP addresses have their purpose and every responsible network administrator should follow best practices.
Sometimes, questions like whether static IP is safe or at least safer than dynamic IP address arise. From the server perspective, there is no relation between the security and the address type.
You are facing a potential danger no matter if your server has static or dynamic IP. What matters is correct firewall settings and access rights restriction.
A static IP address allows you to restrict access and ensure only the right people connect to your business network.
It gives your remote team the access they need to all your business systems while keeping your data completely private.
A dynamic IP address is more suited to situations where privacy is not the main priority.
When you subscribe to GoodAccess, you get your own static IP address that you can assign to all the devices within your business. This means you can keep your network and data private.
By using a static IP address with a cloud business VPN like GoodAccess, you keep your remote teams and your business safe from ever-increasing cyberattacks.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How does DNS help IP addresses?
When users access web services, IP addresses are translated into domain names by domain name system (DNS) servers to make things easier.
Thanks to DNS no one needs to type a series of numbers into the url and just type the name of the desired website they want to visit.
What is the difference between IPv4 vs IPv6?
Today, the most widely used IP version is IPv4, but the newer version IPv6 is increasingly more popular since it offers a much wider range of unique addresses thanks to its format.
The IPv6 format consists of eight groups of four hexadecimal digits separated by colons.
How do public IP addresses work?
In a LAN, devices inside this specific location are assigned a unique IP address manually or automatically by the dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP) server.
These addresses are selected from a pool of internal IP addresses reserved for the internal LAN and are invisible to the outside world.
But this setup comes with a catch.
The local address is unique only in the specific location, but the same range is used in different LANs.
A device has to use a unique identifier to communicate via a network. A public IP address must be used when devices connect to the global Internet.
Network address translation (NAT) solves this problem by providing the device with a public IP address. Administrators can then choose whether a particular device needs a dynamic or static IP.