The Internet has just made a major change, but most people won’t notice a thing. A new Internet Protocol standard has just been turned on: IPv6. The previous standard, IPv4, was created in the eighties with only now what turns out to be finite number of available IP addresses. This affects everyone, but it might affect businesses the most and ultimately the economies of nations. Without enough capacity for the many devices a business requires and for all necessary functions – the wheels of industry could grind to a halt.
IP Addresses are dwindling in number…
The previous IPv4 standard had a few problems, but the most pressing one was that it was running out of available addresses. The IPv4 standard was made in a way to allow for 4.3 billion devices to go online. That seemed like a lot in 1981, when IP addresses were first used, because only large desktops could access the Internet.
No one back then imagined that laptops, certain backpacks, thermostats, and mobile devices would be invented or capable of going on the Internet. While there are still plenty of IPv4 addresses to go around, the space is filling up.
That’s why IPv6 was made. This allows for about four times as many addresses, which should be enough to satisfy humankind for many years to come. The change to IPv6 is most important to businesses that create software or hardware that accesses the Internet because they should change to the new standard as soon as possible to avoid any bottlenecks.
At the same time, other businesses should also upgrade.
Why Businesses Should Upgrade
One obvious reason for the upgrade is because IPv6 will become mandatory. No one is exactly sure when this will happen, but most people expect it to occur in 2014 because that is when the last IPv4 address is estimated to be given out.
IPv6 is also more secure on a network level that IPv4. IPv4 wasn’t built with security in mind because no one knew how popular the Internet would become, nor did anyone expect all the hacker attempts that occur on a daily basis. IPv6 is made with some security, so that should help keep hackers out of the system.
IPv6 also does not use NAT devices. These devices were made to extend the usefulness of IPv4 addresses by giving a network one standard IP address. While this helped conserve the addresses, it also presented many problems such as poor stability, vulnerability and slow processing.
Upgrading really isn’t that difficult. Make sure you are running an OS that can handle IPv6. This includes Windows Vista and later, or OS X 10.7 and later. Most modern Linux systems are also capable of using IPv6.
You should also upgrade your routers to work with the new standard. If the ISP provided the router, then this is the ISP’s responsibility. If not, then you need to buy your own.
About the Author: This is a guest post by Gemma Hopkins; a blogger for PackNet, providers of Business VoIP systems.