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IPv6 Security: Your First Priority


By Jeff Enters


You might not know it, but IPv6, the next-generation Internet protocol, is probably already running on your network. And unless you’re aware of this and have taken specific steps to prepare for it, IPv6’s mere unmonitored presence is creating security vulnerabilities on your network.


You’re probably wondering how this is possible. Well, vendors have been making their products IPv6 compatible for over a decade. So if you've purchased any new network gear or upgraded an operating system recently, IPv6 is probably part of your IT ecosystem.


Many routers, switches as well as major operating systems, including Microsoft Windows 7, MacOS, and Linux, now ship with IPv6 capabilities. Most of the operating systems enable IPv6 by default. So if you're not intentionally running IPv6 on your network, you should be aware of the inherent risk.



So how does IPv6-enabled gear create a security risk?

If IPv6 is quietly running on your network, it has the ability to create an unmonitored tunnel through your corporate firewall straight onto the IPv6 public internet. Operating systems, like Windows 7, are shipping with an automatic tunneling mechanism enabled by default. That, coupled with its preference for using IPv6, gives your OS the ability to automatically bring up an unmanaged and encapsulated tunnel to the internet.  


Let’s say an employee, customer or contractor has a Windows 7 computer on your network, but no IPv6 security measures have been taken. A hacker can exploit that capability by directly communicating with the machine’s unprotected global IPv6 address.


Once a hacker figures out how to exploit an unmonitored IPv6 connection, he can gain control over the user's laptop, access any local data and create a bridge to your network where your corporate assets can be accessed.  

Just disabling IPv6 at the workstation level may seem like the easiest approach; however, there are a couple things to keep in mind:


  1. Microsoft recommends that customers do not disable IPv6 (Technet Blog).

  2. Disabling IPv6 will not prevent direct unmanaged IPv6 PC to PC communication on your internal network. For example, a contractor or customer can gain access to another contractor/customer’s computer, via IPv6, while they are both on your network.



Get control over IPv6 traffic

You can disable IPv6 in your hardware and OSes, but that won't necessarily block IPv6 traffic from sneaking onto your network—and just disabling IPv6 can cause performance issues with your OS and applications.


Early adopters have reported performance issues with Windows 7 after they've disabled IPv6; this varies widely, depending on each IT environment, but it's important to understand the impact that disabling the new protocol can have on your IPv6-enabled applications.


To get around this, consider leaving IPv6 enabled, even if you don't plan to implement it, and take specific actions to protect against IPv6-based security threats.


Here are four steps you can take to begin mitigating the security risk without having to disable IPv6:


  1. Start by determining what hardware and software on your network is IPv6 enabled. You need to know exactly where the protocol is and if it's running so that you can set up appropriate traffic filters.

  2. Protect the edge of your network to prevent unknown and unmanaged IPv6 ‘islands’ at the edge of your network.

  3. Configure your firewall to track IPv6 traffic—and block it—if you don't want it on your network.

  4. Upgrade your anti-virus and anti-spyware applications, along with intrusion prevention systems (IPS) and other security measures, to IPv6-capable versions.

Together, these measures should illuminate any invisible IPv6 traffic trying to sneak onto your network.  HP can help with our IPv6 Assessment services



Put security first and lay the groundwork for IPv6

As you move forward with your hardware and software purchase plans, make sure that every security product on your list can detect IPv6 traffic and protect against IPv6-based threats.


While many companies are still in the planning stages of IPv6 adoption (see Yanick Pouffary’s blog 5 practical reasons to plan your IPv6 transition early), attackers have already begun exploiting IPv6 vulnerabilities. So if you begin your IPv6 transition by addressing security first, you’ll not only eliminate existing network vulnerabilities, but lay the groundwork for a safe, measured journey to IPv6.


Have you started to phase in IPv6? Do you have any advice or anecdotes to share regarding IPv6 security precautions?


Learn how HP's IPv6 Consulting Services can help you ease your IPv6 transition.


And for more information on IPv6, visit the IPv6 Forum or the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).



About Jeff -


Jeff works in the Technology Services organization as a Technology Consultant and has 18 years of diversified experience in Voice and Data Network Engineering.  Data Network knowledge is based on extensive training and experience in design, implementation, support and assessments of large enterprise and data center networks.  He is also considered an expert in VoIP based on his experience designing, implementing and supporting VoIP installations in large enterprise and carrier environments.

Over 15 years in consulting roles provided Jeff invaluable experience in voice and data networks across all verticals, with a focus on healthcare, education, government and real estate.  Additionally, Jeff is a certified Project Manager Professional (PMP) and over his career demonstrated that he excels in efficiently and effectively managing projects and escalations.

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  • I’m a Global Strategist, a certified (PMI) Project Manager, specializing in business to IT alignment, agility consulting, Infrastructure Transformation and Strategic Architecture for Big Data, Mobility, Private Cloud, Unified Communications and Collaboration. I drive the strategy, vision and content of strategic consulting services in the Big Data IT Infrastructure services area at HP. As part of this, I meet with senior level customers to understand their challenges, conduct workshops to determine future vision and roadmaps as well as presenting at industry and analyst events.
  • Craig Partridge is the WW strategy lead for HP Technology Services Networking group. His role now covers strategy for consulting, professional and support services. The major areas of focus are Mobility, UC, Cloud Networking and IPv6. All aligned to core HP networking solutions - simplified, secure, optimized and available.
  • Don has held roles with the business and marketing of consulting for HP. Currently he supports HP's Client and Microsoft Solutions and the emerging Mobility Consulting services. He holds a MBA from UCLA's Anderson School.
  • Over 12 years of consulting, new technology services development and marketing experience covering data center, IT infrastructure, cloud technology domains. Hande holds a M.B.A degree from Bentley College, MA.
  • Having joined HP in 2003 Ian Jagger is the world-wide marketing and program manager for HP Technology Consulting's Strategic Consulting Services, Critical Facilities Services and Energy and Sustainability Management Services, as well as emerging IT services Prior to his current role, he served as the HP Services Marketing Manager for Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, having joined HP in a similar role in the Middle East. Prior to HP Jagger had a 15 year international sales career, culminating in being Sales and Marketing Director for Steelcase Inc addressing Northern Europe before focusing more specifically on marketing. His initial focus was consultancy and interim marketing management, primarily for small to mid-sized customers based or looking to expand in the Middle Eastern region. Immediately prior to joining HP he was a strategic marketing consultant addressing investment targets for a technology fund. Born in Rochdale, United Kingdom, Jagger holds an honors bachelor of science degree in economics and a degree in social psychology from Loughborough University, England. He also holds a Masters Diploma in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and a Chartered Marketer. He has one daughter and lives in Cary, North Carolina.
  • Jeff Enters works in the HP Technology Services Networking organization and consults with customers on their IT strategies. He has over 20 years of consulting, design and integration experience in multi-vendor Voice and Data environments.
  • Editor and writer with 12+ years experience in the corporate software and technology sectors.
  • Jordan Lee has over twenty years of consulting and industry experience, helping some of the world’s largest firms craft and implement their business and IT strategies. His priority is to advise Hewlett-Packard clients how to best prepare for and take full advantage of the dramatic shifts in the IT economy taking place today. Over his career, Mr. Lee has held executive positions both in industry and consulting organizations, where he has provided consulting to some of the largest firms in the US. Over the years, he has helped his clients redesign business processes and organizations, and implement strategic IT programs around ERP, System Integration, Business Intelligence, and IT Infrastructure.
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  • Laura Cunningham is a CPA and business consultant with HP Technology Services Consulting. She helps CIOs and their teams bridge the gap between what the CIO wants and what the CFO requires by building a comprehensive business case that can withstand financial scrutiny.
  • I am on the WW Cloud and Big Data Solutions Team. I help our customers adopt HP advanced solutions that are made up of products and services from across HP. I have over 30 years experience in the technology business including 17 years of business ownership.
  • Broad mix of experiences developed in more than 20 years of technology-driven innovation. Fascinated by changes triggered by mix of behavior, needs and technology. Bachelor in Theoretical Physics.
  • Working for EMEA TS Consulting, I am a Specialist in end to end management of customer data, from creation through consumption, to protection and preservation and ultimately (controlled) destruction. This includes, host, connectivity, storage, data protection and backup and archive, from a technical and more importantly, operational perspective. I have worked in the storage and data management industry for over 15 years, on both sides of the desk, as a customer and now as a consultant.
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  • I’m a Global Chief Engineer certified Exchange Architect and Master (MCA and MCM), specializing in Messaging, Mobility, Private Cloud, Unified Communications and Collaboration. This relates to all work to coordinate sales, pursuit and delivery readiness in all services that relate to HP's portfolio around Microsoft Exchange. Includes internal readiness as well as external events, analyst briefings. With 25+ year’s experience in the industry. Thomas has been involved with Microsoft products since 1993. Specialties: - Architecting complex public and private Cloud solutions for Exchange, SharePoint and Lync in standard, dedicated or hybrid scenarios. - Lead the HP specialists team unit to win and acheive our business targets and budget - Drive HP's Exchange Services for Private Cloud - Working with partners, vendors and internal teams to align, expand and grow HP's strategy.
  • Tim Swiader has twenty plus years in the Information Technology industry. He has worked primarily with the fortune 100 and legacy carriers transforming their applications, networks and data center facilities.
  • Tom Clement has over 30 years experience in the areas of adult learning, secondary education, and leadership development. During this time Tom has been a consistent champion of “non-traditional” training delivery methods, including blended learning, virtual delivery (self paced and instructor led), the use of training games and simulations, and experiential learning. Tom has spent the past 25 years of his career at Hewlett Packard, focused most recently on HP’s global Virtualization, Cloud, and Converged Infrastructure customer training programs. Tom manages the strategic direction and overall performance of these training programs, ensuring these worldwide programs help HP’s customers capitalize on the business opportunities made available by IT advancements in each of these subject areas. Tom and his global teammates utilize best in class instructors, course content and supporting equipment infrastructure to deliver these training programs to HP’s customers. The team prides itself on providing the Virtualization, Cloud, and Converged Infrastructure content customers need when and where they need it, anywhere in the world. Tom is based in the Washington, DC suburbs and can be reached at
  • Tari is a Distinguished Technologist with 30 years of IT and cyber security experience. He is dual board certified in information security/business continuity and is responsible for a wide range of management and technology consulting services encompassing information security, disaster recovery, privacy, and risk management. His problem-solving skills, knowledge of various technology platforms, compliance statutes, industries, as well as his experience in deploying defense-in-depth and InfoSec Program solution architectures is commonly applied when advising CIOs/CISOs as well as leveraged in numerous HP client engagements throughout the world. Tari has designed, built, and managed some of the world’s largest InfoSec programs allowing them to defend against even the most aggressive attackers.
  • I provide technical consulting services at all phases including analysis, planning, design and implementation. I have a wide range of experience in WAN and LAN technologies, as well as providing security solutions and deploying operating system infrastructure. Besides working directly with clients to deploy technology in their data centers, I also find myself architecting or discussing solutions with a business’s chief information officer, helping to lay out a roadmap for the coming years.
  • Bill is the Principal Data Center Energy Technologist for HP Technology Services. Kosik is a licensed professional engineer, LEED Accredited Professional, a Certified Energy Manager, and a Building Energy Modeling Professional. He is responsible for research and implementation of sustainable, energy-efficient, and environmentally responsible design strategies for data centers. He is currently a subject matter expert for the USGBC on the new LEED Data Centers, the EPA/DOE on unification of energy metrics, and the Green Grid on responding to the EPA’s Energy Star for Data Centers program. He has an engineering degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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