Without the existence of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses to organize and route server-to-server communication across the globe, it’s hard to imagine how the digital world would stay on its axis. Much in the same way our physical home and work addresses are required to direct the transport of physical products (i.e., letters and parcels) across county, state, and country lines, IP addresses necessarily facilitate the transfer and receipt of digital resources, representing the essential location and identification information that all reliable server communication depends on.
Like the post office in our building, or the mailbox next to our driveway, the edge of our computer network receives a wide variety of messages from external IP addresses, and the devices originating those messages are generally traceable based on their unique address. Tracking and storing IP address information is beneficial for several reasons — like storing customer demographic information, for example — but it also plays a crucial role in bolstering network security efforts. The reality is that external servers requesting our resources are provisioned with unpredictable motivations, most often well-intentioned but also, at times, malicious. As a result, ensuring the security of our system against client-side threat actors starts with evaluating what threatening IP addresses are and what policies we can put in place to weed out addresses with discernably malicious motivations.