IPv6 could open networks up to zero-day attacks

NIST warns that attackers are preparing to hit networks when IPv6 is turned on

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) warns that moving from IPv4 to IPv6 is a process fraught with peril, which may explain why government agencies are so far behind their own deadlines for implementation.

But private security and technology experts say those concerns are largely overstated, and that a safe transition could happen right away, if you do it correctly.

What isn't in dispute is that the 4.3 billion numbers in the IPv4 protocol are rapidly running out. The Asia Pacific Network Information Centre, which handles assigning IP addresses to that part of the world, already announced that it had run out of numbers back in 2011

+ ALSO ON NETWORK WORLD Whatever happened to the IPv4 address crisis +

Some headway has been made in reclaiming unused and abandoned IP addresses, but it's clear that IPv4 is nearing the end of its usefulness. The follow-up protocol, IPv6, will keep the Internet working for years to come. The possible numbers with IPv6 equal 3.4 times 10 to the 38th power, which equates to several thousand addresses for each of the world's 6.5 billion people. But the two protocols aren't designed to be interoperable, leading to problems with the transition from one to the next.

The U.S. government wants to lead the charge to IPv6 in the Western Hemisphere, and was under a mandate from its own Office of Management and Budget to have all public-facing Internet activities transitioned over to the new protocol by Sept. 30, 2012. It missed that deadline, and could very easily also miss the one whereby the entire government network infrastructure, both public and internal, is supposed to be exclusively IPv6 by this September.

To continue reading this article register now

Take IDG’s 2020 IT Salary Survey: You’ll provide important data and have a chance to win $500.