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Static vs. Dynamic IP Address

What Is an Internet Protocol (IP) Address?

An Internet Protocol (IP) address is a unique identifier assigned to each device that accesses local networks or the internet. IP addresses are governed by the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), which defines the rules for formatting data sent across networks.

An IP address contains location information that enables devices connected to the same network to communicate and share data. It is composed of a set of four numbers ranging from 0 to 255 separated by periods, which means an IP address can range from 0.0.0.0 to 255.255.255.255. IP addresses are essential to internet processes—they enable devices to discover, exchange, and send information with each other. An IP address also helps differentiate between computers, routers, and websites.

IP addresses are allocated through the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), a division of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a nonprofit established in 1998 whose primary mission is to make the internet secure and easy to use. 

IP addresses are split into two types: static vs. dynamic IP addresses. This article will explore the difference between static and dynamic IP.

Static IP: An Overview

A static IP address is a manually configured signifier assigned to a device that remains consistent and cannot change. All devices that use IP addresses, such as desktop computers, laptops, routers, and tablets, can be configured to have static IP addresses. Individuals do not typically need a static IP address, but businesses need them to host their own servers.

Pros of Static IP

The advantages of static IP addresses include:

  1. Better online name resolution: Devices with static IP addresses can be reliably discovered and reached via their assigned hostnames and do not need to be tracked for changes. For this reason, components like File Transfer Protocol (FTP) servers and web servers use fixed addresses. 
  2. Anywhere, anytime access: A static IP address makes a device accessible anywhere in the world. Users can work on projects and communicate with their colleagues while traveling. Additionally, static IP addresses make it quick and easy for employees to locate and use shared devices, such as a printer on their network.
  3. Reduced connection lapses: A static IP address reduces internet connection lapses, which typically happen when devices are not recognized by the network. An IP address that never resets or adjusts is essential for devices processing vast amounts of data.
  4. Faster download and upload speeds: Devices with static IP addresses enjoy higher access speeds. High-speed downloads and uploads are essential for heavy data users.
  5. Accurate geolocation data: A static IP address provides access to precise geolocation data. More accurate data means businesses are better able to manage and log incidents in real time, as well as detect and remediate potential attacks before they cause damage to networks. A static IP address also offers benefits like asset location information, content customization, better delivery management, fraud detection, and load balancing.

Cons of Static IP

There are also downsides to static IP addresses, such as:

  1. Easy-to-track addresses: The constant nature of static IP addresses makes it easy for people to track a device and the data they access or share. This could be a security concern, giving cyber criminals a route into a machine and subsequently unauthorized access to corporate networks.
  2. Post-breach difficulties: Static IP addresses increase the risk of a website being hacked. In the aftermath of a data breach, they also make it more difficult to change IP addresses, making the business more susceptible to ongoing issues. 
  3. Cost issues: The costs of static IP vs. dynamic IP addresses are often significantly higher. Many internet service and hosting providers require users to sign up for commercial accounts or pay one-time fees in order to assign a static IP on each of their devices and websites.

Dynamic IP: An Overview

Internet service providers (ISPs) temporarily assign dynamic IP addresses via the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server. This means an IP address can change every time a user reboots their router or system, and when not in use, can be automatically assigned to another device. This makes dynamic IP addresses more suitable for home networks than large organizations.

Pros of Dynamic IP

The advantages of deploying dynamic IP addresses include:

  1. Cost reduction: Obtaining a dynamic IP address is typically automated, making it a more cost-effective option. 
  2. Enhanced security: Devices with dynamic IP addresses are more difficult to track, reducing the risk of attackers targeting business networks. 
  3. Improved configuration: Dynamic IP addresses are automatically configured by a DHCP server, which removes the need for users to do so manually. This minimizes the risk of a misconfiguration that can render employees unable to access networks or applications.
  4. Increased flexibility: Different devices can reuse addresses and are assigned a new IP address every time they join a network. This process prevents address conflict issues.

Cons of Dynamic IP

When assessing "static IP vs. dynamic IP, which is better," consider the potential drawbacks of each. For dynamic IP addresses, you have the following:

  1. Hosting problems: The changing nature of dynamic IPs means users may encounter problems with the Domain Name System (DNS). This makes dynamic IP addresses less effective for hosting servers and websites and tracking geolocations.
  2. Poor technical reliability: Dynamic IP addresses can result in frequent periods of downtime and connection dropout issues. This makes dynamic IP addresses ineffective for data-intense online activities like online gaming, conference calls, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). 
  3. Remote access: Users with dynamic IP addresses may have trouble accessing the internet from devices outside their primary network. The frequent IP address change can make remote access to networks a challenge.

What Is the Difference between Static and Dynamic IP?

The main difference between static and dynamic IP addresses is that a static IP address stays the same while a dynamic IP address changes. If an IP address is fixed, it will remain the same every time a user connects to their network. By comparison, a dynamic IP address is liable to change as they are assigned by the network whenever a user connects.

Similarities Between Static and Dynamic IP

The similarities of static and dynamic IP addresses are limited to a user’s location. Static and dynamic IP addresses are public information and reveal the user’s local region and ZIP code.

Which is Better for Enterprises? Static or Dynamic IP

The decision to use static or dynamic IP typically depends on what they will be used for. A static IP address is the better option for enterprises that own websites and internet services. Dynamic IP addresses are better suited for home networks and personal internet use. 

Static IP addresses are particularly useful for enterprises that need to guarantee server and website uptime. They also offer reliable internet connections, quicker data exchanges, and more convenient remote access via the following features and capabilities:

  1. Establishing a unique identification on the internet
  2. Simple IP whitelisting
  3. Indefinite firewall rule validation, which removes the need to continuously update firewall rules 
  4. Hosting services within a local-area network (LAN) that is accessible from the public internet
  5. Full responsibility for IP reputation, DNS settings, and IP geolocation

How to Protect IP Addresses from Bad Actors?

Regardless of the IP address businesses and individuals use, static vs. dynamic IP address, information about their location is visible to their ISP—and cyber criminals, too! Bad actors can use IP addresses to trace users’ locations, which can provide them with access to information like their internet browsing history and login credentials.

It is therefore advisable to hide IP address information using a virtual private network (VPN), which ensures all internet browsing activity and personally identifiable information (PII) is kept private. Businesses should also use firewalls and updated antivirus software to keep their networks and data secure and prevent unauthorized access. Users should also strengthen the passwords on their routers, which usually come with default logins from the ISP or manufacturer. 

How Fortinet Can Help?

Fortinet enables businesses and individuals to protect their networks, data, and users at all times using a range of industry-leading security solutions. FortiGate Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFWs) provide enterprise-grade end-to-end security, from real-time network visibility to automated threat protection. They safeguard organizations against advanced security threats such as malware, ransomware, and command-and-control (C&C) attacks.

In addition, FortiGate VPNs keep users’ browsing activity safe whenever and wherever they connect to the internet. They protect users from cyberattacks and prevent the risk of breaches while data is in motion.

FAQs

Is static IP safer than dynamic?

Static IP addresses are typically less secure than dynamic IP addresses. Dynamic IP addresses change regularly, making it more difficult for cyber criminals to track devices and target corporate networks.

Is static or dynamic IP faster?

Static IP addresses are ideal for businesses and users that want: 

  • Faster access to content
  • Guaranteed download and upload speeds