IPv6 is Here and You Need to Know What It Is
Don't worry if you don't understand much about IP addresses and all the news surrounding the new IP address format called IPv6.
The fact is, very few people are even are aware there is such a thing as an IP address, even though it's vital to connecting to them to the Internet. If you're a visitor to WhatIsMyIPAddress.com once in a while, you likely do take an interest in topics that might affect your online profile, connection and your privacy.
The topic of IP addresses has made big news in 2015 —in both the business and IT worlds—because the world has run out of new IP addresses to hand out ("allocate") to organizations. Is it the end of the Internet? What does it all mean and does it affect you?
Q&A on IPv6.
Here are some straightforward non-technical answers to the many of the non-technical questions that most non-technical people are asking:
Is the Internet about to run out of IP address numbers?
Yes and no. Until 2015, the IPv4 type of IP addresses was the only that existed for more than 25 years—it's the version that you probably saw if you checked your own IP address.
The IPv4 format is the "dotted decimal" version—four sections of numbers separated by three dots, such as 220.127.116.11. There were about 4 billion of those IP addresses available and nobody ever expected there to be a "run" on blocks of IP addresses.
But in early 2015 it was clear that there was not going to be any more "new" or unallocated address IPv4 address. That sent some companies into a desperate such for more.
But here's the bright news. There is an unending amount of IP addresses available through another IP address format called IPv6. IPv6, in fact, was created to supplement the known address-availability limitations of IPv4. IPv6 seems new, but in fact it has been around since 1999. More than that, the Internet governing organizations have long been encouraging businesses and organizations to prepare for the transition to IPv6.
So Will IPv6 IP addresses run out one day too?
Not a chance, they experts say. IPv6 was designed to have an almost inexhaustible number of IP addresses to allocate. That number is estimated to be 340 trillion, trillion, trillion addresses.
Here's what the new format means for computers users:
- Today, under IPv4, home users get a single IP address for their network. A home network user using IPv6 may be allocated blocks of addresses to set up multiple networks and connect more devices than they did before, each with its own IP address.
- Organizations and small businesses will be allocated a quantity of IP address to set up hundreds of networks and connect thousands of devices.
- Larger website sites will have access to IP addresses that should last them forever.
What's the difference between IPv4 and IPv6? Will we be able to tell the difference?
They are going to look entirely different, for sure. An IPv4 IP addresses looks like this:
An IPv6 IP addresses has 8 groups of four letters and numbers separated by colons and looks like this:
The IPv6 format has a dramatically greater address space to work with...but that won't really matter to you. You will not notice any difference when it comes to connecting the Internet. That's because any IP addresses simply identifies the network you're connecting to the Internet from, and the computer you're using to connect to that network.
Are there other advantages to IPv6 besides increased address space?
Yes. The expanded format allows for more than unending number of available IP addresses for the world. Some greater "functionality" is made possible by the new design format, include:
- Auto configuration
IPv6 enhances the quality service for Internet and online applications like IP telephony, video/audio, interactive games and ecommerce.
From a practical view, IPv6 brings the world limitless connectivity and all the technological conveniences that go with it. It delivers to businesses, Internet Service Providers and technology-Internet-cloud firms the mega-trillions of Internet addresses needed to connect smart phones, tablets, household appliances, vehicles, business facilities and much more.
Are there any security concerns surrounding IPv6?
Some security experts say that IPv6 may lead to better network security because incorporates a suite of security protocols known as IPsec (IP Security). IPv6 actually mandates IPsec in networking products. By contrast, including IPsec is optional in IPv4, which may have led to some network security issues. The IPsec suite works the same in both IPv4 and IPv6 environments, but because IPsec is mandated in IPv6 networking, overall security should be stronger.
Most likely, any IPv6 security issues that have been raised have more to do with networking and security hardware/software products and not the protocol itself. Because IPv4 has been the dominant IP addressing protocol since the beginning, networking have been constantly revised, updated and improved—over time, the same will be true for networking products created to work in the IPv6 environment.