IP4 to IP6 – a bigger worry than year 2000?

February 10th, 2011 by Stephen Jones Leave a reply »

The last five blocks of the internet’s IP Version 4 addresses were recenlty handed over to the regional bodies that distribut , officially using up the last of the original pool of 4.3 billion internet addresses .

The five blocks, called /8s and which contain 16 million addresses each, are expected to be completely allocated  by September 2011. “This is one of the most important days in the internet’s history,” Rod Beckstrom, head of net overseer Icann said. “It is a point that the founders of the internet thought would occur far in the future,” he said.

What does it mean for your business? Forget ip 4 and start thinking  about compatibility with ip6 for any future investments. IPv6 allows for vastly more numerical addresses, but switching from IPv4 to IPv6 may be a difficult process

 IPv6 has been implemented on all major operating systems in use in commercial, business, and home consumer environments,

 IPv6 does not implement interoperability features with IPv4, and creates essentially a parallel, independent network. Exchanging traffic between the two networks requires special translator gateways, but modern computer operating systems implement dual-protocol software for transparent access to both networks using ‘tunneling‘.

In December 2010, IPv6 was only in its infancy . A 2008 study[ by Google Inc. indicated that penetration was still less than one percent of Internet-enabled hosts in any country.

IPv6 specifies a new packet format, designed to minimize packet header processing by routers The headers of IPv4 packets and IPv6 packets are significantly different, so the two protocols are not interoperable. Generally , IPv6 is an  extension of IPv4. Most transport and application-layer protocols need little change to operate over IPv6; exceptions are application protocols that embed internet-layer addresses, such as FTP and NTPv3.

The size of IPv6 addresses is 128 bits, compared to 32 bits in IPv4

Compatibility with IPv6 networking is mainly a software or firmware issue. Older hardware is likely to be replacedd. The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) suggests that all Internet servers be prepared to serve IPv6-only clients by January 2012

Most personal computers running recent operating system versions are IPv6-ready. Most applications with network capabilities are not ready but could be upgraded with support from the developers. Java applications adhering to Java 1.4 (February 2002) standards have support for IPv6

Equipment which is typically not IPv6-ready ranges from Voice over Internet Protocol devices to laboratory equipment and printers.

All major operating systems in use as of 2010 on personal computers and server systems have production quality IPv6 implementations. Microsoft Windows has supported IPv6 since Windows 2000, and in production ready state beginning with Windows XP. Windows Vista and later  improved IPv6 support

Cellular telephone systems present a large deployment field for Internet Protocol devices as mobile telephone service is being transitioned from 3G systems to next generation (4G) technologies in which voice is provisioned as a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service. This mandates the use of IPv6 for such networks

IPv6 brings almost no improvement to Web security. The main reason is that Web security is related to application security (the attacks are SQL injection, cross-site scripting and so on); and the application security is completely independent of the network layer where the new IPv6 is deployed.

Does running IPv4 and IPv6 simultaneously pose security issues? Yes — because you are running two protocols, This does not mean that this computer will be attacked twice as often but the user must secure the computer for both IPv4 and IPv6 with the help of a  firewall  and other security products.

Start planning!

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