Originally published: January 4, 2011
Last updated: January 4, 2011 - 9:00pm
The US federal government seems to have IPv6 on the brain as of late: both the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) came out with IPv6-related documents recently.
The FCC document is a collection of previously known information -- it's not about FCC policy -- but they managed to include a few things we weren't aware of. It discusses the transition from NCP, the protocol used with the original ARPANET, to the current TCP/IP back in the early 1980s: "The NCP-to-IPv4 transition had two characteristics that distinguish it from the current transition: a flag-day transition date and a clear directive from an authority that could back it up. On January 1, 1983, NCP would be turned off. Those networks who had failed to prepare -- there were a significant number of them -- fell offline, and proceeded to spend several panicked months attempting to upgrade their computers and regain connectivity."
The meatier NIST document is intended for federal agencies, but "may be used by nongovernmental organizations on a voluntary basis." It goes into much detail about the differences between IPv6 and IPv4, and how those differences impact security. For instance: "Reconnaissance attacks in an IPv6 environment differ dramatically from current IPv4 environments. Due to the size of IPv6 subnets (264 in a typical IPv6 environment compared to 28 in a typical IPv4 environment), traditional IPv4 scanning techniques that would normally take seconds could take years on a properly designed IPv6 network."
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