What Is The Difference Between IPv4 and IPv6

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Internet Protocol or IP is the set of numbers assigned to every device that connects to the internet. For instance, your computers, smartphones, routers, and numerous IoT such as cars, fridges, TV, etc., need a unique IP address.

The IP address is necessary for all the devices to communicate and locate with each other. The IP address identifies the devices. Also, it determines the geographical location of that device, no matter where in the world it is present. There are two types of internet protocols, IPv4 and IPv6. IPv6 is the latest version; however, still, most of the devices use the IPv4 protocol.

This guide deals with the differences between IPv4 and IPv6. So, let’s dive into it.

IPv4 VS IPv6 – The Basic

The IPv4 protocol was developed in 1983 and stood for Internet Protocol version 4. After this version, IPv6 has been invented, yet it is still the primary source of routing internet traffic between devices. It uses a 32-bit address system through which there is a possibility of 2^32 unique IP combinations.

This means that there are just over 4 billion IP addresses, which seems a lot to many people. However, with the immense increase in Internet-connected devices, there is a need for more IPs.

IPv4 could be the combination of any four numbers from 0 to 254. For example, the “” IP address is IPv4.

On the other hand, IPv6 is the version that provides a greater number of IP combinations as compared to IPv4. Functionally it doesn’t differ so much from its former version. IPv6 uses the 128-bit addressing system through which a total of 3.4 x 10^28 IP combinations. That’s a lot, and it is not near that this range will end.

Unlike IPv4, the IPv6 address uses hexadecimal digits and allows double colon representation too. The example of IPv6 address could be, “1234:5678:9abc:def0:1234:5678:9abc:def0”.

What Is The Difference Between IPv4 And IPv6

The major difference between IPv4 and IPv6 is the address space, and that’s also the sole purpose of IPv6 creation. However, there are some other striking differences between IPv4 and IPv6. We will discuss this here, but most probably, you wouldn’t be interested in these.

  • IPv6 is capable of multicasting. It allows the single packet to be transmitted to various locations in a single send operation.
  • The IP addresses and other devices are configured automatically without the server’s help with the autoconfiguration.
  • Elimination of triangular routing will make IPv6 more efficient for the mobile phones.
  • With the IPv6 protocol, the processing of routers handling requests is more adept and simplified.
  • The network layer security includes IPSec encryption to all nodes, yet, it is not a rigid rule.

These are some varying points if both version 4 and version 6 protocols, which you, a network administrator, would definitely get better. However, a regular internet user should also be aware of it.

Why Is IPv4 Still In Use?

The IPv6 protocol is the successor of the IPv4 protocol. Still, most of the devices don’t support the IPv6 protocol and contain version 4. This is because the transfer system is slow with the internet provider’s end and the data centers and end-users.

Cost is the most prominent factor that has restrained the deployment of IPv6 protocol. The cost and time needed to enhance servers, routers, and switches have been working on IPv4 for a long time. That’s probably why most companies have a perception to wait until there is a need for upgrading devices.

On the other hand, the ISPs have found an alternative method to slow down the emergence of IPv6. That is, they assign the dynamic IP address to the users. It means that the IP is not permanent and changes whenever you connect to a different network connection. However, when a device disconnects, its IP address is sent to another device connected to the internet.

Therefore, the depletion of IPv4 is decelerated with these patterns. And just 14 percent of the users access Google through IPv6, as reported by Google. Yet, the usage of IPv6 largely depends on the location or country. For instance, the statement from Comcast shows that almost 50% of users will be using IPv6.

IPv4 VS IPV6 – Security And Speed

The IPv6 and IPv4 versions have the same level of security when it comes to encryption. There was a prior need for IPSec encryption for all the companies using IPv6. The requirement became a recommendation when it was concluded that the encrypting process would require more money for enhanced computer resources.

Therefore, both the protocols are equal in safety as IPSec encryption could also be implemented with IPv4.

Unfortunately, the security experts discussed some potential risks, which are only with IPv6 and not with IPv4. For instance, the internet provider could use tools such as IPv6 tunnel when users are in the transitional phase. This tunnel poses more risk. An ISP could use a tunnel broker to give IPv6 content access to the users on their IPv4 networks. Also, the hacker could use packet injection and reflection attacks to target IPv6 users.

However, some tunnel brokers are more efficient in security than others. Also, the transition will take a longer time to complete, and until this, these transition methods will remain working.

IPv6’s autoconfiguration feature could also be vulnerable. It is because it allows devices to take up the IP addresses without the need for a server. The MAC address, which is different for every device, generates an IP address, which creates a unique identifier. Snoopers and third-party trackers can use the identifier to monitor a user and locate his/her hardware.

Fortunately, there are privacy extensions in Mac OSX, Windows, and iOS. They have this feature by default and enabled too. So, it’s probably not an issue for most individuals.

As mentioned before, the IPv6 tunnels are used as a transition method. This might create a bit extra latency as requests switches to IPv4 and vice versa. However, there isn’t a speed difference in both protocols.

How Does IPv6 Cause VPN IP Leak?

Most of the VPN providers have just the support for IPv4. Their DNS server couldn’t resolve the request for a website that uses IPv6 protocol. Therefore, if a website sends an IPv6 address request, then the ISP DNS server will be accessed instead of the VPN DNS server. By this, you can only process IPv4. This is an IPv6 leak, and due to it, all your sensitive data can be at risk.

Also, the IP leak exposes your identity and also browsing activities to the snoopers. This also includes ISP, third-party monitoring companies, and surveillance agencies. Fortunately, know some of the VPN providers have introduced a feature of IPv6 leak protection, and they especially mention it.

However, we recommend performing the IP leak test to avoid an unknown threat and implement appropriate preventive measures.

Hopefully, now your concept regarding IPv4 and IPV6 is cleared. Please share your thoughts about the difference between IPv4 and IPv6.

Kenneth G Aranda

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