Is the IPv4 Exhaustion a real problem?

Pierluigi Paganini July 03, 2015

 IPv4 Exhaustion: The North America ran out of IPv4 addresses and according to the ARIN it has officially exhausted its supply of IPv4 addresses.

The news of the day is that North America ran out of IPv4 addresses and according to The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) it has officially exhausted its supply of IPv4 addresses, joining Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

The ARIN is the organization responsible for handing out IP addresses, it released an official warning that it is unable to fulfil a request for the allocation of large blocks of IPv4 addresses due to IPv4 Exhaustion of available address pool.

“When ARIN receives a justified request for IPv4 address space that cannot be filled by a single block from ARIN’s available IPv4 free pool, ” states the warning  issued by the ARIN.

At this point ISPs have a few choices:

  • Accept the largest available block in the ARIN IPv4 free pool, limited to 512 and 256 addresses, that is equal to or less than your approved size.
  • Elect not to accept an available block from the ARIN IPv4 free pool and request to be put on the Waiting List for Unmet Requests. In this way once specified the smallest block size he is willing to accept, he needs to wait for a block of the desired size will become available.
  • Elect not to accept an available block from the ARIN IPv4 free pool and close out the request, trying to purchase addresses from other organizations.

For the first time in its history, in response to the urgency the ARIN activated an “IPv4 Unmet Requests Policy” and placed a waitlist for companies that request blocks of IP addresses.

“ARIN activated the IPv4 Unmet Requests policy (NRPM 4.1.8)  this week with the approval of an address request that was larger than the available inventory in the regional IPv4 free pool. Full details about this process are available at:

ARIN does still have limited amounts of IPv4 address space available in smaller block sizes. We encourage customers to monitor the IPv4 Inventory Counter on the ARIN home page and the breakdown of the remaining IPv4 inventory found on our IPv4 Depletion page: Organizations that need larger amounts of address space are encouraged to make use of the IPv4 transfer market for those needs.” states the ARIN.

The situation must lead to serious reflection, rapid evolution of paradigms like the IoT and the subsequent association of a growing number of IP addresses must lead the IT industry to reflect on the rapid migration to IPv6 to solve the issue related to the IPv4 Exhaustion.

“Compared to IPv4, the most obvious advantage of IPv6 is its larger address space. IPv4 addresses are 32 bits long and number about 4.3×109 (4.3 billion). IPv6 addresses are 128 bits long and number about 3.4×1038 (340 undecillion). IPv6’s addresses are deemed enough for the foreseeable future. IPv6 addresses are written in eight groups of four hexadecimal digits separated by colons, such as 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334. IPv6 unicast addresses other than those that start with binary 000 are logically divided into two parts: a 64-bit (sub-)network prefix, and a 64-bit interface identifier.”  reports Wikipedia.

According to data provided by Google on the IPv6 Adoption, in this moment nearly 7 percent of Internet is using IPv6, the graph below shows the rapid increase in its diffusion.

IPv4 Exhaustion

The analysis of the data revealed to the IPv6 diffusion per-country highlights that Belgium(34,86%), Switzerland(21,22%) and the US(21,13%) are the countries that most of all are adopting the new protocol.

IPv4 Exhaustion IPv6 x country

But we must not underestimate the risks associated with a migration from IPv4 to IPv6, it could open to new catastrophic scenarios if organizations don’t respect the fundamentals in cyber security matter.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs IPv4 Exhaustion, IPv6)

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