IPv6 is a technical term that is used quite frequently regarding cybersecurity, VPNs, and hosting. They play a big part in online computing and it’s important to have an understanding of what it is, how it works, and why it’s so important. In this blog, we’ll explain everything you need to know!
What is IP?
The abbreviation “IP” stands for “Internet Protocol”. Nearly all computers that can connect to the Internet communicate via TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol). These protocols use IP addresses to identify each device that connects to the internet and from where they are connecting.
You can compare your IP address as the return address on a letter.
There are two versions of internet protocol available right now:
- Internet Protocol version 4 / IPv4
- Internet Protocol version 6 / IPv6
What is IPv4?
IPv4 is the primary method for transferring data between networks and computers. IPv4 is a 32-bit decimal number containing four number strings. This means that there is a limited amount of IPv4 addresses available (approximately 4.29 billion unique IP addresses). To enable the Internet to growIPv6 has been designed.
What is IPv6?
IPv6 is the most recent version of Internet Protocol. IPv6 is a 128-bit decimal address and contains eight groups of four digits. There are three types of IPv6 addresses:
- Unicast – for one-to-one communication. This means that one computer transmits data to another computer. In this type of communication, there is only one sender and one receiver.
- Multicast – for one-to-many communication, which means that one source is transmitting data to a group of devices on the network.
- Anycast – in this type of communication, the source chooses the closest destination for transmission of data. In other words, data is delivered to one random host instead of the entire group.
Advantages of IPv6
There are many advantages of IPv6, to name a few:
- There are more than enough IPv6 addresses available
- It’s reliable
- You can split up and divide blocks
- You can replace IPMI/KVM with IPv6 addresses, which leaves you with more IPv4
- If you’re using 464XLAT, you can use IPv4 over IPv6 and share your IPv4 address with others via NAT64 (this is especially useful for home providers to continue to support IPv4 whilst complying with IPv6)
- You can give anyone a public IPv6 address
- You can use IPv6 via tunnel providers, even if you don’t have IPv6 yourself
- It supports multicast instead of broadcast (which is supported in IPv4)
- It supports addresses that are 128 bits long
- Strong security
Disadvantages of IPv6
Of course, there are also some cons:
- They aren’t easy to remember
- A lot of providers have not implemented IPv6 properly, which means that performance and routing can be worse than IPv4.
- Not all applications support IPv6 yet.
- It can’t communicate with IPv4 machines directly
- Blacklisting is difficult to monitor
- There are not many home providers that fully support IPv6
- VPNs have not yet upgraded their servers to support IPv6
Even though IPv4 was designed in 1998 by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), it has only started to replace IPv4 since 2017. The expectation is that IPv6 will become the standard eventually. Until then, IPv4 addresses can still be bought and assigned.