The Internet Explodes!
This week the internet has suddenly became a much larger place. Overnight, trillions more of new web addresses have been added. Also known as the World IPv6 Launch Day, June 6, 2012 saw a a special event to herald the new standard for web addresses.
What is a web address?
Every computer including the one you are using to read this article, has an address. Think of it like your telephone that has a unique number that can be used to reach you. except this case, it is over the internet. This address is known as an Internet Protocol (IP) address. This address is what makes it possible for computers to identify each other and stay connected with each other in the ‘web’ world.
When it first evolved in 1980, scientists believed that universities and research organizations would be the only ones using the internet. They came up with a scheme called IPv4 (Internet Protocol Version 4) that allowed a maximum of 4.3 billion addresses. However a mere 20 years later, the scene looks vastly different. Today billions of devices from smart phones to vending machines, and tablets to wireless printers are all accessing the internet from every corner of the world.
Why should we care?
At this time, most of the 4.3 billion addresses are used up. So imagine what will happen when you go out to buy a new ipad? There may not have an address that is available for your device to use on the web? Well, move over IPV4…
To overcome the shortfall, scientists have come up with a new scheme called IPv6 (Internet Protocol Version 6). The new standard will allow for a longer address – think of it like adding more digits to your home phone number. The new system will permit 2^128 addresses – that translates to 340 trillion, trillion, trillion web addresses!
What does it mean for you and me?
In the past multiple computers in one house, or all the machines in a school would use the same IP address because of the limitation of addresses. Soon each device in your home -- from the wireless home security panel to the wireless network printer, will have its own unique web address. New devices should be using IPv6 as the standard. Some experts however warn that large scale proliferation of internet-enabled devices could present a security risk for companies from cyber attacks.
IPv6 will eventually replace IPv4. Until that time, both systems will be working in parallel. Meanwhile, companies such as Google, Facebook and other major internet service providers have already enabled the new Internet Protocol to encourage quicker adoption of the new standard. Experts say users will not notice any difference in their web use.
Until IPv4 is fully phased out, we are all safe for the time being, but when that happens, we may be dinosaurs on the Internet!