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IPv6 Security: 5 Things You Need to Know

Carol Wilson
8/17/2011
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The switch to IPv6 will not make networks more secure or more vulnerable to attack in and of itself, according to a panel of industry experts. But failing to test equipment and to make sure security features are functioning as planned could leave networks vulnerable during and after the transition to the new numbering plan.

Here are key facts you need to know about IPv6 and network security:

1. The IPv6 protocol suite was designed to be more secure than IPv4, but that doesn't make it automatically so.

Merike Kaeo, chief Network Security architect for Double Shot Security and author of multiple technology papers on IPv6 security, points out that IPv6 was architected to be more secure but that was based on the attacks happening in the late 1990s. For example, IPv6 routers handle fragmenting of packets differently, and the IPv6 protocol spec mandates deployment of IPsec –- the protocol suite that authenticates and encrypts IP packets. Both of those things were designed to enhance security.

But threats have become more sophisticated, and deployments don't always follow the original plans. "For instance, the IPv6 protocol spec mandated that you had to implement IPsec to be compliant," Kaeo says. "But in reality, when people first started implementing IPv6, they weren't always using IPsec, and if they were using it, that doesn't mean they are implementing it properly."

Implementing IPsec properly isn't like "flipping a switch," adds Thomas Maufer, director of Technical Marketing for Mu Dynamics , a testing and application validation company. It requires having a Public Key Infrastructure, which is a repository and management system for digital certificates. Managing those certificates within an enterprise is one thing, but connecting two enterprises is a different level of challenge.

"A lot of operational things are not in place to do IPsec, and that has nothing to do with IPsec or people's best intentions," Maufer says. "Mu has found a number of vulnerabilities with Key negotiation protocols -- these are just software and software is going to have bugs. If you are going to deploy something and you believe it is secure -- you had better be testing it thoroughly to see that it really is."

Next Page: NAT Is Not Security

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paolo.franzoi
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paolo.franzoi,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:56:01 PM
re: IPv6 Security: 5 Things You Need to Know


 


Lots of folks use IP blacklists...which of course become useless with IPv6 until those same blacklists get replicated across.  If you use products that rely on blacklists (For example mail filters from Barracuda Networks) then you are in a world of hurt.


seven


PS - The link that has the page title at the bottom of Page 3 goes back to Page 3 and not on to Page 4.


 

paolo.franzoi
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paolo.franzoi,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:56:00 PM
re: IPv6 Security: 5 Things You Need to Know


 


I don't disagree with your assertion about the effectiveness of blacklists.  What I was disagreeing with was your assertion that attack vectors once establish become unestablished.  There are new ones all the time.  The bigger issue is that very legitimate sites are often the source of attacks.  Mom and Dad and Junior (1 consumer) is easier to deal with than say a compromised host at CNN or a compromsed ad being displayed by Light Reading (like say a Flash ad).


seven


 

jdbower
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jdbower,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:56:00 PM
re: IPv6 Security: 5 Things You Need to Know


I'll grant you spambot blacklists are more effective (but still a bandage on a fundamentally broken system), relying on blacklists for real security verses just spam is much more painful.  Blocking Mom and Dad from accessing MegaBank.com because Junior has illusions of being an Anonymous vigilante is bad business.  Blocking outbound SMTP traffic from a typical consumer IP address doesn't hurt anyone.  Most of the time...

jdbower
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jdbower,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:56:00 PM
re: IPv6 Security: 5 Things You Need to Know


"Lots of folks use IP blacklists...which of course become useless with IPv6"


So no change with IPv6, then.  ;)


I've never liked blacklists, attacks come from Internet cafes, anonymous proxies and flash mobs, not static IP addresses.

paolo.franzoi
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paolo.franzoi,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:56:00 PM
re: IPv6 Security: 5 Things You Need to Know


 


jd,


Actually that is not true.  The C&C hosts and many of the spambots are quite static.  There is also a significant amount of movement. Once a host is compromised and used for attacks, the attackers don't give it up. 


seven


 

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