You don't believe me?
Trust me. Read with me and I may yet make you a believer.
I recently concluded one of these numerous, never-ending IT certification exams and something struck me as I was studying – Internet Protocol version 6. This is a concept I’ve known for a long time from previous exams and in my line of duty, it is impossible not to have heard of IPv6.
What is IP? IP is an acronym for Internet Protocol. It is the language of the internet. Look at this way - if the Internet was a planet and you landed there on, you will need an identity (IP address) to be able to communicate in the local language (IP). All devices and systems – phones, SIM cards, GPS, computers etc – that can access and be accessed on the internet have to ‘speak’ IP as well as have an IP address (a uniquely identifiable address on the internet).
IP was first introduced in the early 70s just after the birth of the Internet (or ARPANET as it was known at the time) and the initial design was to provide 4billion+ addresses. At the time it was widely believed that the addresses will never finish – and truly who thought the internet would explode like it has? The designers just wanted to connect a few hosts together and share information in real-time.
However, by the early 90s when the first web page was published, it was evident that the future was too big for IPv4 (today there are 7billion of us on earth which means there isn’t enough IPv4 addresses for us humans let alone devices - which far outnumber us) so the IT community started working on a successor for the existing IP technology. This project at completion is what is now known as IPv6 and the predecessor called IPv4. IPv6 on the other hand has 340 trillion trillion trillion (340 undecillion) unique addresses. As a matter of fact, if the entire address space of IPv4 fills a single coke bottle in Lagos State, Nigeria, IPv6 will fill every coke bottle placed in every square inch of Nigeria and still spill over. YES! That’s how many individual unique addresses there are!
What does this mean to you and I? Well, first of all, you can infer from above that your mobile phone, tablet and PC have IP addresseses (most likely IPv6). The tracking system installed in your car for easy recovery functions on the same principle ditto the GPS you use to find destinations. Your home automation system as well as a myriad of devices you can remotely access. You know TVs are coming with IP addresses when you hear the launch of the internet-TV plus your pay-per-view (DSTV) box as well. Infact, a lot of devices in recent years are being shipped with IPv6 addresses hard-coded into them. This is regardless of the eventual format an administrator will choose to adopt.
You must be wondering by now where I’m heading with all these. Isn’t it obvious from all these that a tracking system is evolving right under our noses and whether we like it or not we are inadvertently feeding the monster? As you read this, I am sure you have a mobile phone. In that phone is a SIM card that you registered using your finger print, real names, facial picture, maiden name, address etc. It is safe to say that that tiny piece of plastic chip contains more data about you than 99% of your friends know about you. So if your phone has an IPv6 address that can be reached, how about your SIM?
There is a theory in the InfoTech community called the “Internet of things”. The term “Internet of Things” was first used by Kevin Ashton in 1999 where he proposed that “if all objects and people in daily life were equipped with radio tags, they could be identified and inventoried by computers. However, unique identification of things may be achieved through other means such as barcodes or 2D-codes as well. Equipping all objects in the world with minuscule identifying devices could be transformative of daily life. For instance, business may no longer run out of stock or generate waste products, as involved parties would know which products are required and consumed. One's ability to interact with objects could be altered remotely based on immediate or present needs, in accordance with existing end-user agreements.” Basically, we all need to be tagged for some greater good of the earth and by extension - humanity. Yeah right!
At CISCO, the world leader in network technology, they have a tweaked version of the concept called the “Internet of Everything” and this is heavily hinged on IPv6. It is an idea that will harmonize human, data and processes to increase the productivity of mankind. We don hear!
I foresee a very near future where owners will have microchips implanted in their pets to facilitate tracking like we already do with cars. And how far behind will the idea of using such a technology on kids to curb kidnapping be? That’s assuming it has not started already. Those chips will all carry IPv6 address because they are numerous and can go round.
The question that bothers me is that as we continue to embrace this amazing technology of everything by keying into this tracking system, what is going on in the background? The internet is, like everything else in life, a hierarchy. So who is the “Oga-at-the-top?” DON’T LAUGH – NOT FUNNY!
This piece is to get you researching the subject matter and maybe scare you a bit. I am scared; at the very least you should be concerned.
SPARK! Let’s change it.
~by Lucas Togan (@ltspark)
Please find below some links to start your research into the matter.