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Businesses need to plan carefully for IPv6

By Max Burkhalter
February 22, 2012
The advent of IPv6 is on the horizon and the migration to the new protocol is accelerating at a rapid pace. As a result, businesses cannot afford to sit back and wait for their hand to be forced. Instead, they need to aggressively push toward the new protocol and work to implement IPv6 as soon as possible. Network Computing reported that a rapid move toward IPv6 is becoming especially critical because the protocol does present some security and regulatory compliance concerns.

Jon Oltsik, an analyst with Enterprise Strategies Group, told the news source that regulatory compliance may actually be easier for most organizations when IPv6 is turned on. However, it is essential that organizations carefully evaluate how the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 will affect them and identify any risks that the process may create.

According to the news source, the fact that the migration process is slightly different for every organization is creating an environment in which organizations need to carefully plan their IPv6 implementation or risk creating significant risks.

Oltsik told Network Computing that IPsec is inherently built into IPv6, which adds an extra layer of protection from IPv4 setups, where IPsec could be added, but was never ideally merged with the protocol's capabilities. However, IPsec is not a panacea and organizations will need to consider other security and regulatory processes when moving to IPv6.

"You really can't make that transition until your firewalls support IPv6 and your [intrusion detection and prevention] supports IPv6 and you've migrated all your access control list rules from IPv4-compliant devices to IPv6-compliant devices, so that's the big issue," Oltsik told the news source.

Careful planning is also key because organizations need to evaluate how every aspect of their operations will be impacted by the switch to IPv6. Jim Frey, managing research director at Enterprise Management Associates, told the news source that understanding the various application and data traffic traversing the network is essential when attempting to securely transition to IPv6.

On a theoretical level, IPsec combines with direct device-to-device communication and other attributes of IPv6 to make the protocol far more secure than IPv4. The problem is that it also represents a major shift in how the network functions. Because of this, organizations need to strategically develop their IPv6 network and manage the migration carefully to ensure they are positioned to leverage the security gains associated with the new protocol.

Perle’s serial to Ethernet converters connect serial based equipment across an Ethernet network. The Perle IOLAN range of Console Servers, Device Servers and Terminal Servers feature built-in support for IPv6 along with a broad range of authentication methods and encryption technologies.


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