Internet Security Blog - Hackology

IP addresses to run out by 2010?


Vint Cerf warns that the Internet is running out of IP addressesAs “the father of the Internet”, Vint Cerf is a man who needs to be listened to, especially when he is talking about the Internet itself. So when he warns that the Internet is almost full, meaning the available IP addresses are rapidly running out, I think we all need to start taking action.

Cerf, now aged 65 and an Internet evangelist, was one of the men who worked on ARPAnet, the predecessor to the Internet, and so is rightly regarded as one of the founding fathers of the Internet. According to The Guardian, he has recently warned that the Internet is rapidly running out of IP addresses, with late 2009, early 2010 a possible time-scale for when all the IP addresses in the world will have been used.

The problem has been exacerbated by the fact that it’s not only computers that are now able to connect to the Internet, with mobile phones, PDAs, game consoles, televisions, and even fridges all being sold with some kind of Internet access built in. This means that the Internet Protocol version four (IPv4) addresses, of which there were 4.2 billion when it was developed in the late seventies, are running out at a rate of knots.

With every Internet-enabled device assigned a unique IP address, the stocks are running extremely low, with around 14% of IPv4 addresses left. Cerf explained the situation in a way we can all understand to Times Online:

This is like the internet running out of telephone numbers and with no new numbers, you can’t have more subscribers.

But, before you all panic that the world is going to end in 2010, or at least any new iPhone or laptop will be effectively banned from the Internet, there is already a solution in place. It’s actually been in place for over ten years, which is the time this problem was first noticed, but it’s still not been fully implemented.

In 1996, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) adopted Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6). This new protocol provides space for 2^128 addresses (340 trillion trillion trillion) or 4 billion IPs for every living person on the planet. So it will outlive any of us.

Most of us will already own a computer which supports IPv6, with IBM’s Unix offering support from 1997 and almost everyone else following suit shortly afterwards. Widows XP SP1 had it included, and it’s the standard protocol version in Windows Vista. So why is no-one yet using it?

It seems no-one is really that bothered until they are forced to, and according to Cerf, that is likely to be within the next year or two. Until then, all us humble consumers can do is make sure we buy devices and sign up to Internet Service Providers who support IPv6 and are prepared for the changeover. Oh, and remember to cross your fingers.


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  • well i have a bad feeling abt IP v6…

    right now i am so used to remembering IPs and doing stuff through them… but who will be bale to remember whole ESSAYS… 😛 essays = IP v6 addresses… they are soooo long 🙁

    Have your fingers crossed… lets hope everything turns out to be good and easy to use/remember

  • wasn’t this the main reason why IPv6 and MAC adressing was created plus they said the internet would collapse back in 2007 due to all the traffic so I wouldn’t worry

  • @fadi
    lolz.. why size matters ? :p

    ..its there job to say .. back in 2000 .. the Y2k was suppose to do some big stuff.. and what it did .? nothing hey , don’t forget the awesome awareness ad’s 😀

  • right now i can easily memorize DNS server ip addresses and stuff…

    it wont be like that when IPv6 becomes mainstream

    is easy to remember or sdaf234:213:123sfgv23:123412fff easier ?? 😛 (the IPv6 address was just an example… only 1 to 9 and abcdef, i.e. hex numbersystme is used in IPv6… not s,g,v etc. :P)

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