IPv6 101 on IPv6 Day: What Small Businesses Ought to Know

Well, ARIN wants you to. So, it's time to learn. Photo by blacknight.

The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) requires all Internet Servers to provide IPv6-only services by January 2012. The Internet needs IPv6 because it is running out of addresses using IPv4. The free pool of unassigned IPv4 addresses expired in February, and in April, the Asia Pacific region ran out of all but a few IPv4 addresses being held in reserve for startups.

ARIN said in InfoWorld it will deplete its supply of IPv4 addresses this fall. With today being World IPv6 Day, what better day is there for small businesses to explore the transition than today?

What is IPv6?

The Internet operates by transferring data in small packets by an international communications protocol known as the Internet Protocol. Each data packet contains two numeric addresses that are the packet’s origin and destination devices. Since 1981, IPv4 has been the publicly used version of the Internet Protocol, and it is currently the foundation for most Internet communications.

IPv6, or Internet Protocol version 6, will enable computers to communicate between each other on digital addresses and shall support 340 undecillion such addresses.  The growth of the Internet has mandated a need for more addresses than is possible with IPv4, and IPv6 allows for vastly more addresses.

“IPv6 brings significant opportunities – both business and technical – and will require well-planned deployment and management,” said Dale Geesey, COO of Auspex Technologies. “We plan to provide organizations with the baseline they need to begin to leverage the benefits and overcome the implementation hurdles.”

The vastly increased address space available in IPv6 significantly reduces the effectiveness of traditional blacklisting methods, making it harder to associate a rogue computer with its source address.  In addition, network infrastructure requires upgrading in order to parse, to route and to store addresses in the new format.

Small Business Solutions to Work With IPV6

IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses and can support 4.3 billion devices connected directly to the Internet, but IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses and can connect up a virtually unlimited number of devices: 2 to the 128th power. IPv6 offers the promise of faster, less-costly Internet services than the alternative, which is to extend the life of IPv4 using network address translation (NAT) devices.

One major stumbling block for IPv6 deployment is that it’s not backwards compatible with IPv4. That means website operators, including small businesses, will have to upgrade their network equipment and software to support IPv6 traffic.

While IPv6 support is available across operating systems, however, there are no interoperability features available for IPv4 and IPv6. Internet Security technology providers such as Commtouch are rolling out solutions to counter the threat potential from IPv6.

“IPv6 is expected to create many challenges on the security front,” said Amir Lev, Commtouch’s chief technology officer and goes on to add that “Readying our network and products, as companies start IPv6 deployment, illustrates our commitment to proactively dealing with new threats.”

If all this still sounds really confusing , Commtouch has an Introduction to IPv6 webinar that users can download as slides or as an MP3.

Take Away on Incorporating IPv6

What’s critical to organizations will be the migratory solutions by Commtouch and other such service providers.

  • Effective migratory strategy deployed
  • IPv6 issues and will be resolved by enabling privacy extensions on client devices (which is presently default feature on Windows platform) and most importantly a dynamic address block rather than a unique and therefore easily trackable MAC address.
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Anuradha Shukla

Anuradha Shukla is a China-based writer covering a range of topics from enterprise IT to mobile technology. Shukla writes for the Korean IT magazine Asia-Pacific Business and Technology Report. Her articles are also published by an Australasia media company Fairfax Media.

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