The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) warns that moving from IPv4 to IPv6 is a process fraught with peril, which may explain why government agencies are so far behind their own deadlines for implementation.
But private security and technology experts say those concerns are largely overstated, and that a safe transition could happen right away, if you do it correctly.
What isn't in dispute is that the 4.3 billion numbers in the IPv4 protocol are rapidly running out. The Asia Pacific Network Information Centre, which handles assigning IP addresses to that part of the world, already announced that it had run out of numbers back in 2011.
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Some headway has been made in reclaiming unused and abandoned IP addresses, but it's clear that IPv4 is nearing the end of its usefulness. The follow-up protocol, IPv6, will keep the Internet working for years to come. The possible numbers with IPv6 equal 3.4 times 10 to the 38th power, which equates to several thousand addresses for each of the world's 6.5 billion people. But the two protocols aren't designed to be interoperable, leading to problems with the transition from one to the next.