The Internet's IPv4's Clock is Ticking Down

The Internet's IPv4's Clock is Ticking Down

Summary: And it's counting down faster than ever. Ready for IPv6 yet?

TOPICS: Networking, Browser

We all know that the Internet's supply of Ipv4 addresses is running ever lower. What you may not know is that IPv4 exhaustion, when we're completely out of available IPv4 addresses, is approaching even faster than the experts expected.

The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) announced at the end of the November that we're down to 2.73% of the Internet's available IPv4 addresses. In case you haven't been watching, that indicates that the long expected run on IPv4 Internet addresses has begun.

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) assigns IPv4 addresses to the regional Internet registry (RIR) in blocks that are equal to 1/256th of the entire IPv4 address space. Each block is referred to as a "/8" aka "slash-8" and includes just over 16 million IP addresses. The most recent assignment means that there are now only 7 of these blocks available.

The last two will be assigned according to demand, and after they're gone, each of the remaining five "/8" blocks goes to one of the five RIRs. This decline has happened even faster then expected. In mid-October, IANA and ARIN expected the supply of IPv4 addresses at the IANA/RIR level to last until early 2011.

Now, as Owen DeLong an IPv6 Evangelist for Hurricane Electric, told me "These [last] two [/8 blocks] will likely be issued to APNIC [The Asia-Pacific RIR] some time this month or very early in January. At that point, there will be no more global IPv4 free space and we will begin the countdown to RIR exhaustion."

Lucky us.

As Takashi Arano, CEO of the Japanese Internet company Intec NetCore (Japanese language site) notes on his IPv4 Address Report wrote, "The prospect of the forthcoming hiatus in the supply of IPv4 addresses also appears to have hastened some network deployment plans on the part of many service providers, and while the RIRs continue to adhere to the policies and practices of allocation of addresses in response to demonstrated need, there is a noted escalation of demand for addresses in recent times that is likely to persist in the coming months."

This means his automated estimate of when we're going to run out of freely available IPv4 addresses may have been too conservative. Arano added, "The continued escalation of demand levels is also adding some pressure to the demand model."

You can say that again. For most people, you still don't have anything to worry about. But, if you're a network administrator, this just underlines, once more, that it's time to get cracking on your IPv6 plans.

Besides, there are good reasons to switch to IPv6 besides simple necessity such as built-in Internet Protocol security (IPSec) and potentially faster wire speeds. These features may not matter for most home users, but for a business, they can matter a lot.

Topics: Networking, Browser

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  • RE: The Internet's IPv4's Clock is Ticking Down

    Yeah time to get up to steam on ipv6. Luckily it is vastly more easier then ipv4, but the low number of ISP's that actually support ipv6 is worrying.
  • An obvious question

    I am not familiar with the fine detail of the protocol internals so I am asking what may seem like a stupid question. <br>Why can't you take an existing IP4 address and use it as the basis for an IP6 address by pre-pending to it . The IP6 address space would designate an area and perhaps a specific ISP. The original would then ride inside the new. This assumes that the major network nodes are all running IP6 (I hope).
  • IPSec Myth

    It's worth reading this IPv6 mythbuster:

    Myth: IPv6 is automatically more secure than IPv4
    It would be more accurate to say that IPv6 is no less secure than IPv4. The main security mechanism built into IPv6 is IPsec. IPsec is not new - it can be used with IPv4 as well, and this has been possible since its earliest days. However, a conforming implementation of IPv6 must support IPsec, while there is no such requirement in IPv4. This has led to the misconception that IPv6 is automatically more secure than IPv4: instead, it still requires careful implementation and well-educated system and network staff.

    In some other ways IPv6 in fact does support better security: that IPsec can be guaranteed to be supported fosters its use and propagation. The header design in IPv6 is better, leading to a cleaner division between encryption metadata and the encrypted payload, which some analysts consider has improved the IPsec implementation. And the huge address space can, if desired, be used to defeat scanning attacks by simply allocating random addresses within subnets.

    However, the bottom line for IPv6, as for all protocols and systems, is that education, training and awareness are the best investments from a security perspective.