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Could the IPv6 protocol actually harm the net?

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January 16, 2004

IPv6 has been just around the corner for years but, if it ever becomes widespread, could it actually harm the net? As the European Commission (EC) is preparing to launch the world's first IPv6 network this week, one respected commentator predicts that the new standard will make the internet less secure and slow it down by letting many more devices connect.

At an event in Brussels this week, the EC will launch the new Global IPv6 Service, designed for the research community.

Announcing the network, Erkki Liikanen, commissioner for enterprise and the information society, said, "[IPv6] is a crucial component for e-Europe and faster rollout of broadband networks."

However, according to author and analyst Simson Garfinkel, IPv6 will slow down the internet and make it less secure - but it will meet demand for more addresses, and so it is unlikely that firms can avoid using it.

Writing in the MIT Enterprise Technology Review, Garfinkel said IPv6 will require a a lot of work to implement, including the reconfiguration of more than 100 million computers.

Garfinkel also predicted other problems, partly because it would be difficult for firms to decide when to switch over. "Somewhere, somebody is going to have a machine that is IPv4 only, and they won't be able to communicate with you," he added.

However, despite the drawbacks, Garfinkel warned businesses that to ignore IPv6 would be a mistake.

"The code that allows computers to talk on an IPv6-enabled network is now built into the current versions of Windows XP, Mac OS, Linux and many forms of Unix," he added.

He also noted that all routers made by Cisco as well as all mobile phones from communications giant Nokia support the protocol.

Source: Vnunet

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