Market for IPv6 security is starting to grow

Market for IPv6 security is starting to grow

IP Version 6, the next-generation Internet Protocol, is still in the early adoption phase, but commercial demand for tools to secure IPv6 networks is beginning to grow, according to one vendor.

Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. of Redwood City, Calif., has installed 750 of its combination firewall and VPN products on IPv6 networks this year, said Andrew Singer, the company's manager of market intelligence.

'My guess is that the curve is really just starting, and it's going to be moving up quickly,' Singer said.

The Defense Department, which has committed to moving its networks to IPv6 by fiscal 2008, is the largest government customer for the security products.

'DOD is blazing the trail,' Singer said. But outside the military, there is little government activity in moving to the new protocols.

IPs are the set of rules underlying the Internet, defining how computers and other devices communicate with each other. Most hardware and software today uses IP Version 4. The Internet Engineering Task Force developed Version 6 during the 1990s. The core set of protocols became a draft standard in 1998, providing improved security, increased IP address space and greater authentication capabilities.

Check Point added IPv6 support to its VPN-1/FireWall-1 tool in 2002, when growing use of the Internet began creating concern about availability of IP addresses.

'IPv6 has been something people have thought about for a long time,' Singer said. But the success of Network Address Translation has dampened demand for the larger address space and thereby slowed adoption of IPv6.

Jim Bound, chairman of the North American IPv6 Task Force, said Japan now is the only country with a production IPv6 Internet backbone. Other networks, such as the Moonv6 test bed in the United States, are in pilot phases.

But the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers announced in July that it is incorporating IPv6 technology in its root domain name system servers, so that 128-bit IPv6 addresses can be found on the system. Bound said compliant hardware is available for creating an IPv6 infrastructure, and industry is awaiting applications supporting the protocols before the infrastructure is created.

He believes widespread adoption of IPv6 probably will begin in the next two years.

Singer said demand for IPv6 security is beginning to come from several large commercial enterprises such as IT vendors as well as from academic and research institutions.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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