Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

2/28/2012
10:42 AM
50%
50%

3 Ways For SMBs To Plug IPv6 Security Holes

Small and midsize businesses need not fret over the newest internet protocol. An expert explains what you need to know.

Securing The Super Bowls Of Sports
Securing The Super Bowls Of Sports
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)

Taking a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil approach to internet protocol version 6 (IPv6)? You might be leaving a door to your network wide open as a result.

IPv6 already exists and will eventually become the standard-bearer for internet traffic. Chief among the reasons: Its predecessor, IPv4, will eventually run out of virtual real estate because it uses 32-bit IP addresses. IPv6 implements 128-bit addresses. SMBs don't necessarily need to pump a lot of time or money into a robust IPv6 transition plan, according James Gudeli, VP of business development at Kerio Technologies. But they should take care to minimize the related security risks that could already be affecting their networks.

"I don't think small businesses are ready--there's no recommendation to start deploying," Gudeli said in an interview. "This is strictly about understanding the protocol and protecting yourself."

[ For more background on the security implications of IPv6, see Will IPv6 Make Us Unsafe?. ]

Gudeli doesn't think SMBs need to overthink IPv6 and what it might mean to their business, with one major exception: Security. Companies that unknowingly enable IPv6 traffic on their networks might invite significant threats inside the corporate perimeter. Here are the three basic risk-mitigation steps Gudeli advises; just about any SMB can put these in place with a reasonable amount of effort.

1. Call your ISP. Gudeli notes that plenty of smaller firms go online with wireless routers or other equipment provided by their internet service provider (ISP). At the smallest of companies, that could even mean a DSL or cable modem. If that's the case for you, call the ISP and start asking questions. First and foremost: Is the provider's equipment allowing IPv6 traffic? "If that [connection] is enabling access to IPv6, there might be a potential threat to your network," Gudeli said. "Start at the pipeline."

2. Audit your hardware. If your internet connection does enable IPv6 traffic, the next step is to address the various devices that access your network. The goal, according to Gudeli, is to understand which workstations, mobile devices, or any other hardware accessing the network is actively enabled for IPv6. Those machines could create security risks and you should disable the setting, at least for now, to minimize problems at the endpoints. The instructions for doing so would vary by operating system, but Gudeli said any IT pro that can set up an antivirus program can modify IPv6 settings.

3. Check your firewall or UTM device. Of course, step two might make some owners and managers cringe, especially as you move up the SMB scale. Another approach: Block IPv6 traffic through your firewall or unified threat management (UTM) device. That can seal up a leaky security perimeter; it could also help solve a related management headache: Employees spending time on non-work-related websites. In addition to IPv6-related attacks, "there are also a fair number of websites using IPv6 specifically to bypass filter rules found in front of UTMs so that people can access their content," Gudeli said.

Failing to address the devices on your network and your firewall or UTM could lead to an employee inadvertently hanging a neon sign out there advertising a weakness. "If there's a system that's looking for an IP address and it goes out through your firewall, which for whatever reason isn't IPv6-aware, and it hits the internet and is assigned an address, there's no filtering for that individual computer," Gudeli said. "People that are looking to get into to your network will have an open channel. There's no network translation happening--it's basically a public IP address that's shared with the rest of the world." Someone in China, say--where IPv6 is more widely deployed at this point--could use a simple sniffing program to find open access to networks via the protocol, according to Gudeli.

Once you've taken basic steps to secure your network from IPv6-related threats, then you can consider the ways in which it might impact your business in a positive way. Gudeli notes you can set up a test environment to better familiarize yourself with the protocol, for example. The more likely effect for the typical SMB: They'll see a trickle-down effect as IPv6 becomes standard for their cloud and virtualization providers.

"Once SMBs protect themselves, they'll know everything they need to know when it's ready," Gudeli said.

Security professionals often view compliance as a burden, but it doesn't have to be that way. In this report, we show the security team how to partner with the compliance pros. Download the report here. (Free registration required.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Sabrina
50%
50%
Sabrina,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/1/2012 | 7:02:17 AM
re: 3 Ways For SMBs To Plug IPv6 Security Holes
Good to know about it :)
News
Former CISA Director Chris Krebs Discusses Risk Management & Threat Intel
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  2/23/2021
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
Security + Fraud Protection: Your One-Two Punch Against Cyberattacks
Joshua Goldfarb, Director of Product Management at F5,  2/23/2021
News
Cybercrime Groups More Prolific, Focus on Healthcare in 2020
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  2/22/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
Building the SOC of the Future
Building the SOC of the Future
Digital transformation, cloud-focused attacks, and a worldwide pandemic. The past year has changed the way business works and the way security teams operate. There is no going back.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-27132
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-27
SerComm AG Combo VD625 AGSOT_2.1.0 devices allow CRLF injection (for HTTP header injection) in the download function via the Content-Disposition header.
CVE-2021-25284
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-27
An issue was discovered in through SaltStack Salt before 3002.5. salt.modules.cmdmod can log credentials to the info or error log level.
CVE-2021-3144
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-27
In SaltStack Salt before 3002.5, eauth tokens can be used once after expiration. (They might be used to run command against the salt master or minions.)
CVE-2021-3148
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-27
An issue was discovered in SaltStack Salt before 3002.5. Sending crafted web requests to the Salt API can result in salt.utils.thin.gen_thin() command injection because of different handling of single versus double quotes. This is related to salt/utils/thin.py.
CVE-2021-3151
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-27
i-doit before 1.16.0 is affected by Stored Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) issues that could allow remote authenticated attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via C__MONITORING__CONFIG__TITLE, SM2__C__MONITORING__CONFIG__TITLE, C__MONITORING__CONFIG__PATH, SM2__C__MONITORING__CONFIG__PATH, C__M...