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IP or Internet Protocol specifies the technical format of packets and the addressing scheme for computers to communicate over a network. Most networks combine IP with a higher-level protocol called Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), which establishes a virtual connection between a destination and a source. IP by itself can be compared to something like the postal system. It allows you to address a package and drop it in the system, but there’s no direct link between you and the recipient. TCP/IP, on the other hand, establishes a connection between two hosts so that they can send messages back and forth for a period of time.

The Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) is a protocol for use on packet-switched Link Layer networks (e.g. Ethernet). IPv4 provides an addressing capability of approximately 4.3 billion addresses. The Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is more advanced and has better features compared to IPv4. IPv6 (Internet Protocol Version 6) is also called IPng (Internet Protocol next generation) and it is the newest version of the Internet Protocol (IP) reviewed in the IETF standards committees to replace the current version of IPv4 (Internet Protocol Version 4). Unlike IPv4, IPsec security is mandated in the IPv6 protocol specification, allowing IPv6 packet authentication and/or payload encryption via the Extension Headers. However, IPsec is not automatically implemented, it must be configured and used with a security key exchange.

IPv4 is a 32-bit numeric address (IPv4) is written in decimal as four numbers separated by periods. IPv6 addresses are 128-bit IP address written in hexadecimal and separated by colons.

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