26. March 2007, 20:49 | by WD Milner | Full Article |

In the face of an advancing United States government deadline, major network and security vendors continue to scramble to include support for IPv6 in their leading router and firewall products.

The Office of Management and Budget has mandated IPv6 support by June of 2008. While current acquisitions are primarily to meet compliance, most agencies have yet to to focus on the potential of IPv6 for improved encryption and authentication protocols and the ability to deploy so called “rich media”. Indeed, their currenet focus is more on the integration and migration challenges betwen IPv6 and current IPv4 networks.

IPv6 is an advancement on the IP developed more than a decade ago. At the time, government and some industry groups had been predicting that the number of network capable devices requiring an individual address would exceed the number available using the IPv4 protocol. This scenario has yet to materialize, partially due to the widespread use of NAT by individuals and businesses to let entire networks access the Internet using a small number of addresses, or even a single address in mnay cases.

While huge benefits from a move to IPv6 will not be readily apparent, it has long term implications for network growth, sustainability and security. As it becomes more widely adopted, IPv6 holds the promise of increased security by enhancing the authentication and encryption protocols for data in both individual packets and data streams. Most commerical firewall products, especially at the upper end of the range support IPv6, though few are actually running with the capability enabled for compatibility reasons. Devices capable of IPv6 in a mixed environment must be monitored to ensure proper configuration or the risk exists of providing an inadvertant and unwanted tunnel into an IPv4 network space.

While implemetning IPv6 in software can provide great flexibility, to reduce bottlenecks in such things as firewall appliances, a solution with dedicated hardware (processors, coprocessors, preprogrammed logic, etc.) is a far better solution, especially for a large organization.

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Categories: ,
Keywords: IPv6,appliances,government,network,OMB



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