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Weekly Cyber/IT Terminology

IP Address

Internet Protocol Address

Also known as a layer 3 address because it is used at layer 3 in the Open System Interconnection model (OSI model). Used to identify a system on the Internet or network. The Internet needs a way to differentiate between different computers, layer 3 devices like routers and layer 3 switches, and websites.

IP addresses provide a way identifying devices and form an essential part of how the internet works. These are logical addresses which means they can change when a device changes a network. You probably have a different IP Address on your device when you are home compared to at work or school.

An IP address is made up of 2 parts, a network portion and a host portion and though this is a little deeper than intended for this post, it is necessary to understand this concept. This is very important when you get to subnetting and network design.

You can think of an IP address as like the zip code (network portion) and address (host/node portion) of an address when you send an actual letter in snail mail.

2 versions right now, IPv4 (32 bits) and IPv6 (128 bits) and I don't want to get too deep in this post, but we need to know some fundamental differences. IPv4 addresses are written in dotted decimal notation and has 4 'areas' separated by decimals. IPv6 address are written a little different compared to version 4. Starting off, IPv6 is hexadecimal and not just integers for addressing, and there are 8 areas in this address separated by colons. is an example IPv4 address

192.168 could be the network portion and 5.23 could be the host address

2001:0ab8:35d3:0550:2001:0ab8:35d3:0550 is an example IPv6 address

2001:0ab8:35d3:0550 network portion and 2001:0ab8:35d3:0550 the node address

MAC Address

Media Access Control Address

Also known as a layer 2 address because it is used at layer 2 in the OSI model. According to NIST, it is a hardware address that uniquely identifies each component of an IEEE 802-based network or where you use it on your home/business ethernet. This address is what is used in an IPv4 network to deliver the data to the local machine.

This also has many different names it is referred by:

  • MAC Address

  • Hardware Address

  • Ethernet Address

  • Physical Address


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