Free IPv6 Certification, Tunnel Brokering and the Takeover by Our Robot Overlords in 3, 2 ...

Smart House Diagram

The internet's an exciting place, and today we're gonna talk about that. We're rapidly transitioning into the age when your fridge surfs the web and when you're on your way to the airport and realize you left the oven on, you can turn it off again. The internet is getting crowded with all these ... robotic ... devices running around on it, but we're finally making the switch to IPv6, which will greatly expand the internet's ability to communicate with all these ... intelligent ... appliances. It's almost like they won't need us anymore ...


The switch to IPv6, however, comes with its own set of challenges, leading to strange new tech services and new certifications. We'll get to the certifications in a moment; let's talk services. It's not totally uncommon for a client to set up an IPv6 address even though their ISP only provides IPv4 connectivity. It's part of any transition — trying, at least for a time, to be compatible with both round and square holes, regardless of the shape of the peg.


Where there's a will, of course, there's a way. Enter the tunnel brokers. These enterprising businesses are springing up to help prepare for the phasing-out of IPv4. Tunnel brokers provide a range of services, everything from a limited tunnel to a specific site or other destination, to large-scale connectivity through the client's IPv4 provider. Most of them also offer these services free of charge.


The short description of what they do is that they make it possible for an IPv6 address to use an IPv4 ISP. Getting into more detail, they'll typically do this using "protocol 41" tunnels, in which IPv6 traffic is handled inside IPv4 packets by having the protocol field set to "41."  Also something about placing the end of the tunnel somewhere, which I'm pretty sure is witchcraft.


Point is, it's here, and it's free.


At least it is if you go with the biggest of these brokers, although I don't think I've yet seen a broker who does charge for their services. The biggest name in IPv6 tunnel brokering is Hurricane Electric, an ISP based out of Fremont, Calif. Hurricane Electric has worked hard to keep with the IPv6 times; it offers dual-stack service to support both v4 and v6, and additionally offers the free tunnel brokering. It's the latest move, however, that really makes it stand out amid forward-thinking ISP's.


Hurricane Electric offers a free IPv6 certification. Prestigious? Maybe not, but definitely interesting. The webpage brags, "Users say that the Hurricane Electric Free IPv6 certification service is both entertaining and educational," and then continues, "We aim to provide you with something to do after your first IPv6 ping." Now, don't scoff — regardless of whether it's suitably snobby or not, the certification will walk an interested party through their first experience with IPv6. And those who take the time to understand early may develop quite the competitive edge later on.


The exam itself is far more interested in helping you learn the material than quizzing you on it, as evidenced by its easygoing, open-book format. It's not, however, a "come as you are" type of certification. Hurricane Electric assumes you have a basic understanding of routing advertisements and other IPv6 essentials. Furthermore, the test is not exhaustive. Chances are, you'll still need to do some Google-ing sometime down the road.


For more information about preparing for the certification, you can check out one of the online guides to better prepare yourself. And for everybody who's still reading ... send help. The toaster's holding me hostage.


Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author
David Telford

David Telford is a short-attention-span renaissance man and university student. His current project is the card game MatchTags, which you can find on Facebook and Kickstarter.