World IPv6 Day draws attention to security issues with new protocol

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Data security


World IPv6 Day draws attention to security issues with new protocol

SUMMARY: The marking of World IPv6 Day this week drew fresh attention to the next-generation Internet addressing protocol, as well as to the security considerations that enterprises will need to deal with as they migrate to it.

IPv6 is an IP address standard designed to replace the current IPv4 protocol, which has been in use since the 1980s for routing Internet traffic. The new protocol has been available for several years now and supports several magnitudes more address spaces than IPv4, while also providing better security and reliability. Even so, few companies have upgraded to it because of the perceived complexity in doing so.

Computerworld article
ANALYSIS by -Al Kirkpatrick, Firestorm Chief Information Security Officer

Wow, I’m sure all of you counted down the days to celebrating World IPv6 day this week!   Wait a minute, are you telling me this wasn’t a big deal on your schedule?   And, you say, what the heck is World IPv6 day and, more important, why on earth (or cyberspace) would you care?

Well, maybe the excitement was limited to the computer geeks of the world, but nonetheless this event will impact each and every one of YOU, and thus it warrants some attention.

You may or may not be techie enough to recognize that IP stands for Internet Protocol, and more important is the foundational strategy that allows all the worldwide Internet users to find your business’s website.

So, in layman’s terms, the original IP address standard was designed to surely be large enough to accommodate the future needs of the Internet.   But, also remember that Bill Gates originally decided that 64K (that’s 64,000) was way more personal computer memory than anyone would really need — and now if your PC doesn’t have multiple billions then it’s way out of date. Same thing with the Internet.

The old IP address size just isn’t large enough to accommodate everyone in this day and age, and so the IPv6 project is all about implementing a new and enlarged Internet address standard that will last a while longer.
OK, I promised to explain why you should care.   First of all, your technology team (large or small) had better be aware of this situation, understanding how it can impact your business, and planning accordingly (older hardware may not work with the new standard).

Secondly, as with all new things, you can expect the new plan to come with some growing pains, including availability and security issues that all the truly bright people working on this project have missed.

Currently, the U.S. federal government has declared that our major Internet providers must switch to v6 addresses by Sept. 30, 2012.

Sounds like a long time, but we all know what it takes to make changes to computer systems.   So, I urge each of you to make sure that your technology team has given some serious thought to this.

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