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The basic network transmission protocol of the Internet and every network based on TCP/IP.
This is the C structure that represents an IP header (version 4):
struct iphdr {
        __u8    ihl:4,
#elif defined (__BIG_ENDIAN_BITFIELD)
        __u8    version:4,
#error  "Please fix <asm/byteorder.h>"
        __u8    tos;
        __u16   tot_len;
        __u16   id;
        __u16   frag_off;
        __u8    ttl;
        __u8    protocol;
        __u16   check;
        __u32   saddr;
        __u32   daddr;
        /*The options start here. */

The IP protocol is the part of TCP/IP that allows packets of data to pass from one host to another. It's possible to think at an IP packet as a piece of data with a source and destination address attached, at every point of it's trip the destination address is used to select the right way in order to reach the destination host.

In a TCP/IP network, hosts are identified by IP addresses. An IP address in the IPv4 protocol is a 4 byte number, usually represented as four 8-bit numbers separated by a point (example:

The IP protocol works in a best effort fashion. This means that there is no guarantee that packets will eventually reach the destionation. They may be lost, duplicated, out of sequence. Higher level protocols like TCP add the reliability abstraction using the IP protocol as a base.

A protocol strictly related to the IP protocol is the ICMP.

See Also: IPID and Idle scan.
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