IPv4 vs. IPv6: What’s the difference?

Before we go more deep in IPv4 vs IPv6, here is brief history about IPv4.

IPv4: a brief history

Which is IPv4 before we get into the differences between the two IP address protocols? Well, an IP address is a list of numbers that a computer is assign to locate on the Internet. It is an address, just like your home’s number and street is an address. While your home address is use to send you an e-mail, your IP address is used to send data packets you request.

Version 4 of the Internet Protocol, generally known as IPv4, was develope in the early 1980s. An IPv4 address includes four numbers, each of which ranges from 0 to 255, separate by periods.  There are more IP addresses, and it also helps to understand the basics of TCP / IP.

Each website has an IP address; usually, we simply no longer use them. In the early days of the internet, for navigating to it, it was necessary to know the IP address of a website. Then, there came the Domain Name Service (DNS), which converts numbers into names.  It helps us to access the web much more easily, since it is much easier to remember the name of a website than its IP address.

Have we run out of IPv4 addresses?

The theoretical limit of IPv4 is 4.3 billion addresses, and that was more than enough in 1980. But as the internet grew and became global, we quickly ran out of addresses, especially in the era of smartphones and IoT devices today.

As of the 1990s, the internet has run out of IPv4 addresses. Although clever engineers have found ways around the problem, it wasn’t long before the goal became a more permanent fix. Developed to solve these capacity problems well, IPv6 was required when IPv4 could no longer support the load.

IPv4 actually coexists with its newer version on the internet, but ultimately all will use IPv6. Replacing old IPv4 infrastructure would be prohibitively expensive and disruptive, but IPv6 is slowly rolling out as older IPv4 hardware is removed.

IPv6: the future of the web?

The Internet Protocol version 6, or IPv6, was first released as a successor to IPv4 in the late 1990s. Even then, the internet builders understood the shortcomings of IPv4 and the resulting shortage.

IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses, allowing theoretical addresses of 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456, or 340 undecillion. The IPv6 addresses are represented as eight groups of four hexadecimal digits, separating the groups by colon. One example could be “2020:0de6:0100:0042:0010:8c2e:0370:6234,” but there are methods for abbreviating this complete notation.

Besides increasing the supply of IP addresses, IPv6 also address the many shortcomings of IPv4 — the main one being security, which we will explore more recently.

IPv4 vs. IPV6

IP Address
IP Address

In addition to more IP addresses the advent of IPv6 brought more functionality. For example, IPv6 supports multicast addressing, which allows for the simultaneous transmission of bandwidth-intensive packet flows (such as multimedia streams) to multiple destinations, reducing network bandwidth. But does IPv6 look better than IPv4? Let’s learn.

IPv6 has a new feature call autoconfiguration, enabling a device to generate an IPv6 address as soon as it is power up and put on the network itself. The device starts by looking for a router with IPv6. The computer will produce a local address and a globally routable address if one is present, allowing wider internet access. For IPv4-based networks, the addition of devices must often be done manually.

IPv6 allows devices to stay connected to multiple networks at the same time. This is because of the interoperability and configuration capabilities that allow the hardware to allocate multiple IP addresses to the same computer automatically.

Then we look at the differences in speed and security between IPv4 and IPv6.

IPv4 vs. IPv6: Speed comparison

In terms of speed, how can IPv4 and IPv6 be compare? A series of tests were conduct on Sucuri’s security site, where IPv4 and IPv6 provide the same speed in direct connection. IPv4 win the check often.

How is IPv4 and IPv6 compared in terms of speed? On Sucuri’s security site a series of tests have been carry out, with the same speed in direct connection between IPv4 and IPv6. The check is win by IPv4.

IPv4 vs. IPv6: Security comparison

With more safety in mind, IPv6 was design. IP Security (IPSec) is an IETF security protocol series that is fully integrate in IPv6 for security, authentication and data integrity. It is also possible to integrate IPSec fully into IPv4. It is up to ISPs — not all companies— to implement it.

IPv6 Security

In theory, the widespread adoption of IPv6 is a way that makes it significantly harder for man-in – the-middle attacks.

IPv6 also allows more stable resolution of the names. In addition to the Neighbor Discovery Protocol (NDP), which deals with the discovery of other network nodes on a local link, the Secure Neighbour Discovery (SEND) protocol adds a safety extension. NDP is not secure by default and can therefore be vulnerable to malevolent interference. SEND guarantees NDP using an IPsec independent cryptographic method.

IPv6 offers the use of two security headers, namely Authentication Header (AH) and Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP), thanks to the native IPSec. Authentication Header offers authentication of the data origin and protection from repeat attacks, while ESP provides unconnected integrity, authentication of data origin, protection against replaying attacks and confidentiality of traffic, as well as privacy and confidentiality through payload encryption. Such security may also extend to IPv4 if IPSec is enforce on the network.

IPv4 Security

Over the years, IPv4 has updated significantly, so the difference between IPv4 and IPv6 security isn’t extraordinary. IPv6 has the same IPSec as IPv4; it can also be use and use by network operators and end-users–thus, an IPv4 network can be configure as safe as an IPv6 network.

Additional benefits of IPv6

IPv6 enables the stitching of a public signature key — half of an asymmetric encryption system, while the other is a private key — to an IPv6 address. The resulting Cryptographically Generated Address helps the user to show “proof of ownership” and verify their identity for a specific IPv6 address. With the current limit of 32-bit address space, it is impossible to retrofit this functionality to IPv4.

The new protocol also allows end-to-end IP layer access, removing the need to interpret the network address— one of the working solutions that retain IPv4 addresses. This transition opens the door to new and worthwhile services. Peer-to-peer networks are easier to create and maintain, and more robust services such as VoIP and Quality of Service (QoS).

IPv6 also offers the ability to belong to many networks at the same time, with a unique address on each network, and the ability to merge several business networks without re-addressing.

IP Address
IP Address