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Security a key concern for businesses migrating to IPv6

By Max Burkhalter
August 16, 2011
IPv6 migration is quickly becoming more critical for businesses around the world as more registries run out of new IPv4 addresses to distribute. As a result, many companies are moving quickly to transition their network infrastructure to support the new protocol and ensure they are able to accept transmissions from users on both IPv4- and IPv6-enabled devices.

According to a recent Business Computing World report, IPv6 inherently undermines some of the most prevalent network security policies in use, and companies need to re-evaluate how they secure their data in light of IPv6 deployment.

The report explains that many companies face security problems because hackers gain access to their systems and then use bot computers to send emails to their users that look similar to official emails. In many cases, messages of this nature would be evaluated by a user's email provider and sent to the spam folder because of their dubious nature. However, the processes used to identify if a message was sent by a bot or from an actual user become much more difficult to perform within an IPv6-based world.

For the most part, bots infest home computers, the report said. Most home networks will have their own IPv4 addresses that represent each device in the network. Similarly, a business networks has certain IPv4 addresses that cover a certain group of its devices. The report explained that companies can avoid spam by setting their networks to identify the IP address of the incoming transmission and identify networks that are being used to send out an inordinate number of messages that are clearly spam.

However, IPv6 allows direct, device-to-device communication. The report explained this means that each specific device has its own IPv6 address. As a result, hackers can more easily identify a range of IPv6 addresses within a network, turns those machines into bots and send out larger quantities of spam emails without having them flagged as such by the end user's network.

Each device having its own IP address impacts many levels of security. A recent SecurityInfoWatch report explains that IPv6 will enable more communication between disparate devices, creating a potential security risk if machines communicate with each other so quickly that they respond to situations in erratic ways.


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