Getting more from your IPv6

Agencies eventually will use IPv6 addresses for their network
nodes, especially now that they have met the Office of Management
and Budget's deadline for enabling network backbones for
IPv6. And with all those bits to work with ' 128 bits to be
precise ' an IPv6 address can be used for more than just
letting routers know where to send packets.

At the Smart Cards in Government Conference last month in
Washington, NASA computer scientist Tim Baldridge raised the idea
of agencies using IPv6 numbers as a way to uniquely identify
non-employees, such as contractors.

Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 orders all federal
agencies to use personal identity verification smart cards for
employee identification and access. But what about contractors?

Baldridge, a member of the Government Smart Card Interagency
Advisory Board's Physical Access Interagency Interoperability
Working Group (, said one possible approach
is to have contractors assign an IPv6 number to each employee
identification card they issue. The government could use those
numbers as unique identifiers.

'This might actually be a cool thing,' Baldridge

The Defense Department may have another use for IPv6: For
gauging mission readiness.

Air Force Capt. Timothy Policarpio explored that idea in his
thesis paper for the Air Force Institute of Technology (Quickfind

IPv6 could, for example, help in a combat situation when various
nodes of a network go off-line.

IPv6 has a variety of header field extensions, such as the Flow
Label, that could be injected with codes. The Air Force could
assign codes to various missions, which then could be included in
the packets carrying data for those missions. Pairing the mission
code with the travel time of the packet could provide a clue about
how effectively the network is supporting that mission, an
indicator of the mission's readiness itself.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.


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