Friday, 30 January 2015

Upgrading From an IPv4 to an IPv6 Firewall

Most businesses today have an online presence. This enables them in catering to a wide and varied customer base. Also, most transactions today are carried out via the Internet. This means sharing and storing a large amount of customer and financial data online.

This data is crucial and the confidentiality of this information should be maintained by the businesses. For this, businesses all over the world use firewalls.

Firewalls act as a barrier between the organization’s internal network and the external one, for example the Internet. These systems perform this crucial task by controlling the incoming and outgoing user traffic.  This helps in ensuring that unidentified and untrustworthy networks do not gain access to a business’s internal network.

IT service providers mostly offer two system variants: IPv4 firewalls and IPv6 firewalls. IPv4 firewalls were popular during the 1990s. However, upgraded IPv6 comes with a bundle of benefits, some of which are:

  • IPv6 firewalls use Secure Neighbor Discover Protocol (SEND) which confirms the identity of the host to which the system is connected. This defends the system from external attacks.
  • IPv6 firewalls use 128-bit addressees. This effectively enables the business to use more addresses.
  • The SEND protocol also makes it difficult for hackers to redirect traffic between two hosts. This protects the integrity and confidentiality of the data.
Owing to the advantages discussed above of using IPv6 firewalls, most businesses today are migrating from IPv4 systems to an IPv6. This will go a long way in maintaining the confidentiality of the data.

However, there are certain things that businesses must keep in mind. Some of these are:
  • An existing system cannot be replaced in one go. Hence, businesses opting for upgrading their system will have to carry out the entire process in a phased manner. For this they might have to use tunnels which provide connectivity between the two systems. However, excessive use of tunnels can expose the system to various security risks. Therefore, it is advisable that businesses use these connectivity points only if required.
  • Network layout of IPv6 firewalls differ from that of IPv4 ones. It is essential that before opting for a migration plan, businesses undertake a detailed study of the architecture of these systems and redesign the entire network if necessary.
  • Organizations opting for a migration plan must also update different devices, routers to the latest software. This ensures that the entire system is up-to-date and meets the required specifications.
  • Business should ensure that IPv6 enabled platforms are not used until the system is not configured.

Following the above mentioned guidelines while migrating from an IPv4 system to IPv6 will help the business in executing the entire transition process smoothly.

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