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Am I stealing someone else's IP address by resetting my router?

I’m using DSL and I have a router, and I have a static IP. So one
day I restarted my router manually by pressing a button on the back.
Now my IP address has changed. I told my friend I had done this and he
says I’ve made a huge mistake. He says I’m essentially stealing another
person’s IP address on the ISP. Is it true that I am committing a crime
by changing my IP address by simply restarting my router?

No, you’re not.

What your friend fails to realize is something very fundamental to
how IP addresses work.

You don’t take an IP address; an IP address is
given to you.

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Static IP addresses are assigned by your ISP.
Typically, it’s something you need to pre-arrange as part of setting up
your account. The ISP determines what IP address to assign to you,
tells you what that IP address is, and then configures their equipment
to make sure that all data sent to that IP address is sent down the
correct wires to reach you.

For your part, when you are assigned an IP address you then need to
manually configure that in whatever equipment is connected directly to
your ISP provided internet connection. Typically, that’s your router. I
have a static IP address, for example, and I had to go into my router
and configure it use that address.

“You don’t take an IP address; an IP address is
given to you.”

Dynamic IP addresses are also assigned by your ISP,
but in a completely different manner. When you connect your computer or
router to the internet, the software asks via a protocol known as DHCP
(Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) for an IP address. In essence, on
being connected to the net the device sends out a broadcast: “is there
anyone out there who can assign me an IP address?”. The ISP’s equipment
responds with “sure, here you go, you can be x.x.x.x”.

On your side, you enable all this automatic IP assignment by, once
again, configuring the device connected to the internet properly. On a
router or on a computer you configure the network connection to ask for
a IP address automatically.

Two of the bigger differences between static and dynamic IP
addresses include:

  • A static IP address does not change, whereas a dynamic IP address
    can. Each time a device asks for an IP address the answer could be
    different, and dynamic IP addresses are typically also only valid for
    some period of time, after which the device is required to ask
    again.

  • A static IP address typically requires manual requests and
    coordination with the ISP or issuing authority. A dynamic IP address is
    assigned automatically when your computer connects.

But in all cases, static or dynamic, the IP address was given to you
by the ISP. You didn’t take it. You can’t “steal” what you were
given.

Either of two things happened:

1) You actually didn’t have a static IP address to begin with. Since
you didn’t mention configuring the router for it, I have to assume that
this is at least a possibility. Hence, resetting your router didn’t
really change anything.

2) You did have a static IP address, but the reset on your router restored it to default
configuration, which is almost always to ask for a dynamic IP address.
Obviously, your ISP doesn’t care, as they assigned a dynamic IP address
and you were up and running. To complete your configuration, though,
you’ll want to go back into your router and configure it with the
static IP address information you should have gotten from your ISP in
the first place.

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6 comments on “Am I stealing someone else's IP address by resetting my router?”

  1. i started reading further on static ips, and ive found out that i dont have one. im using a DHCP. thanks a lot for clearing this up for me

    Reply
  2. Also, when you manually configure your ip address to a DCE/DTE piece of equipment, you will need to assign a subnet mask i.e. 255.255.0.0 or 255.255.255.0. All this does is tell your equipment how many ip addresses it will enable.

    Reply
  3. Oh, this only pertains to running your own private network. If you are running internet access through your router from a internet provider, an ip and subnet mask will automatically be assigned to your equipment based off your router’s mac address (NIC card). All you have to do is make sure that your computer is set to ” automatically obtain ip”. And not in configure ip manually mode.

    Reply
  4. hello sir
    while testing my internet speed on speedtest.net it showed me my ip address117.243.195.96 can i change this ip to117.205.103.64
    please help me.

    Reply

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