The internet is creaking to a halt… what are we doing about it?

Here we all are, adding new content to the internet like there’s no tomorrow. But the current system is wobbling under the pressure, insecure and rapidly running out of space. 

There are two major issues.

  1. The internet can’t block malicious traffic as a whole, which means organisations and individuals can only react to individual attacks
  2. The web is running short of space, with Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) almost at the end of its 4.3 billion numbering system

China sets the stage for internet change

According to a recent report in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, China is streets ahead, busy creating a much more secure internet with vast amounts more space.

The Chinese system improves security using a clever bit of technology called SAVA (Source Address Validation Software), which sets checkpoints across the network to authenticate IP addresses. Because the checkpoints build a vast database of trustworthy machines together with their IP addresses, packets of potentially malicious data can be blocked if a computer and its IP address don’t match.

They’re way ahead of us in terms of IPv6 too, the latest Internet Protocol version set to increase Chinese internet space an astonishing 80 trillion, trillion times.

What’s happening with IPv6 in Britain?

IPv4 space is due to run dry in a whole load of countries this year. China saw the writing on the wall ages ago but the UK is  up against some serious deadlines. We’re even lagging behind Nigeria.

Everyone knows delaying IPv6 adoption will affect our competitiveness as well as our ability to innovate. But the people at 6UK, the not-for-profit organisation set up in 2010 to support Britain’s IPv6 ambitions, resigned in disgust in late 2012 because they found it ‘impossible to ‘fulfil their purpose’, hinting that “countries with hands-off governments” tend to fall behind in adopting IPv6. Which implies the powers that be are being less than proactive.

6UK’s advice to the government was to  make government sites externally addressable by IPv6 and upgrade internal networks when possible. But in December 2012 6UK’s ex-director Philip Sheldrake said, “There is not a single UK government website with IPv6. It beggars belief that you can’t access any UK government website using IPv6. The UK government’s style is to wait for markets to do the work, but markets can’t work in the current situation.”

What’s next? 6UK died three months ago but I can’t find any significant updates about where the UK as a whole stands right now…