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What is IPv6? IPv4 vs IPv6 Connectivity & Why You Need to Hide IP Address

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Press has recently reported how the old addressing system for the internet (IPv4) is at last running out of new addresses. Strict rationing began in summer 2012 and, since then, European companies have been allowed to make one last application for new addresses and, after that, will have no choice but to switch to the IPv6 system, which is already rolling out. 4.3 billion IP addresses were simply never going to be enough for the world.

But what is privacy online going to evolve into under this new internet addressing regime? This is a question that, at the time of writing, the press is saying surprisingly very little about… surprisingly for privacy and security experts especially, because the IPv6 internet is set to be a greater threat to internet privacy than IPv4 ever was before.

What is IPv6?

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IP v6 stands for Internet protocol version 6, and is the new addressing format for everyday connection to the world wide web. In the same way that telephone companies have on several occasions made phone numbers longer in order to accommodate the increase in telephone users, the IP address is being extended to accommodate the rise of internet connections.

As IPv6 rolls out, we now have access to 340 trillion trillion trillion IP addresses. This will come in handy since Cisco estimates that by 2016 every person on earth will have an average of three internet connections each, with many standard household appliances already starting to require IPv6 connectivity (Japan has recently developed toilets which connect to the internet in order to deliver medical results to its users).

In a few years' time there will only be IPv6 websites, ISPs and routers serving the internet.

IPv4 vs IPv6

IPv4 had the following structure: ###.###.###.###, and each triplet could not exceed the number 255. IP v6, on the other hand, looks like this:

  • ####:####:####:####:####:####:####:#### and each quadruplet can extend all the way from 0000 to 9999 (with letters a - f occupying certain positions).
  • An IPv6 address example is: 2001:0db8:0000:0000:0000:ff00:0042:8329.
  • IPv6 connectivity will likely be very similar to that of Ipv4, as the protocol itself is practically the same. Some observed improvement to IPv6 router performance will bring about a slight betterment of IPv6 connectivity for IPv6 router users, however.

Part II: What is IPv6 Transitioning Going to Mean to Me?

Part III: What is IPv6 Going to Mean to My Internet Privacy?

Part IV: After IPv6- What is Online Privacy Going to be Saved by?

Written by: 
Robin Welles; expats team, internet security team