A Few Thoughts on World IPv6 Launch Day
The sun is now setting on World IPv6 Launch Day, which represents the next major step in the continued evolution of the Internet. Hopefully, you didn’t notice a thing.
Wednesday’s global event was the logical follow-up to last year’s IPv6 Day, where organizations around the world enabled IPv6 support in their networks for a 24-hour period on June 8, 2011. Last year’s event served as a test run for today, proving that the Internet was ready for the next big thing.
This time around, many network and content providers permanently enabled IPv6 support. Among the service providers / carriers who permanently enabled IPv6 in their networkstoday were: AT&T, Comcast, Free Telecom, Internode, KDDI, Time Warner Cable and XS4ALL.
Many large content providers are also permanently enabled IPv6 traffic, including: Facebook, Google, Microsoft Bing and Yahoo!
Why this is such a big deal is threefold:
1) This will increase the amount of IPv6 traffic around the world. One of the reasons cited for the slow adoption of IPv6 is the lack of content or network providers delivering native IPv6 support. Now that these providers have joined the IPv6 club, administrators will see IPv6 traffic showing up in their networks, which leads us to points 2 and 3.
2) IPv6 is a new protocol. What happened the last time you enabled new technology in your network? Do the scars still show? There are decades of institutional IPv4 knowledge out there in educational institutions, support teams, and IT staff. IPv6 has built up very little institutional knowledge, as very few networks have had it in production. There is going to be an extraordinary amount of ‘on the job training’ with IPv6.
3) IPv6 presents some significant challenges to network security teams. For example, a common work-around of wrapping IPv4 headers on IPv6 traffic allows the IPv6 traffic to traverse the network, but legacy IPv4 security devices cannot inspect the IPv6 traffic for malicious content. Look for IPv6 to become the vehicle of choice for evading detection by legacy firewalls and other security devices.
In spite of the interesting times to come, it is exciting to be a participant in IPv6 Launch Day. Fortinet’s support of IPv6 dates back to 2003, and we’re glad it’s finally here.