June 5, 2012

World IPv6 Day — the Internet Expands

Tom Clare

Tomorrow, the world will make one more historic move from the networking address protocol known as IPv4 to IPv6.  Last year’s 24-hour test now becomes permanent as IPv6 will be turned on and will remain running for participating organizations.

What does this mean and why should you care? 

Well, in some ways it speaks to the phenomenal growth of the web and how much our lives have quickly changed.

To transfer data over the internet, packets are routed using routing protocols, which are essentially an address system for each addressable device. The current address system we have in place is known as IPv4 (e.g. A.B.C.D or four nodes) and has 232 or about 3 billion addresses available.  Or I should say had available.

In February 2011, the last block of top level IPv4 addresses were granted. Now, all of these aren’t necessarily in use. The amazing thing is that in the short time of the internet, we saw billions of IPv4 addresses assigned. Essentially, the internet as we know it was about to run out of space. Too many cars on the road, as it were. 

To change that, a number of years ago, the IPv6 protocol was established using 128 bit (e.g. A.B.C.D.E.F or six nodes), rather than 32 bit addressing options. This expands the potential amount of addresses on the internet from 232 to 2128 addresses.

So what does this mean for your company? Well, at some point if you don’t prepare for the switch you may begin to experience some hang ups and some sticky patches. Simply put, you are going to need to make the switch to IPv6 or at least run parallel systems. The great news is that Websense web security solutions are already IPv6 capable, so you can keep your networks safe from malicious, advanced threats and data loss over the web.

What else do you need to do to prepare? Well, InformationWeek has a great article on recommendations to make the switch in your business. As a fun aside, a quick question for you. What is the strangest internet addressable object you have ever come across? A toaster? A toilet? Let us know what kind of crazy connectivity you have found in the comments below. 

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