NAT is NOT necessary for IPv6 security

Kazu, KAME Project, 07/08/98
Many people believe that NAT(network address translator) is necessary for IP security. This is completely wrong.

Recently, many sites install firewall to protect their security. In many cases, NAT is used combined with firewall. This probably lets people misunderstand that NAT is essencial for firewall.

The main purpose of NAT is to save the IP space assigned to site. As you know, the current assign policy of IPv4 is really severe. Many sites can't get enough IPv4 space. So, they are drived to use private IPv4 addresses.

To communicate a host with a private address in a site and a host with a global address in the Internet, address conversion is necessary. This convertion makes one-way connection. That is, outgoing connections are OK but incoming connections are rejected.

This feature is considered useful to protect site security. But it can be accomplished by other technologies. A good example is filtering. Again, the point is that NAT is not essential for firewall.

By the way, one of the biggest advantages in IPv6 is its huge address space. Each and every site can get enough IPv6 addresses(by default, 16bit subnets, each subnet has 64bit identifiers). So, we don't have to save IPv6 address space. This means that NAT is completely unnecessary.

To implement one-way connection for IPv6 site, you can make use of filtering. If you want two-way connection environment, just use IPv6 without filtering. You should understand that the two-way connection environment cannot be implemented with IPv4, where NAT is required.

NAT is necessary evil for IPv4. But NAT is evil itself for IPv6. IPv6 is desired to eliminate any and all NATs in the Internet.