IPv6 and NATs

This was posted on the NANOG mailing-list by Jack Bates. Well-said!

As my corp IT guy put it to me, PAT forces a routing disconnect between internal and external. There is no way to reach the hosts without the firewall performing it’s NAT function. Given that the internal is exclusively PAT, the DMZ is public with stateful/proxy, this provides protection for the internal network while limiting the dmz exposure.

The argument everyone makes is that a stateful firewall defaults to deny. However, a single mistake prior to the deny allows traffic in. The only equivalent in a PAT scenario is to screw up port forwarding which would cause a single host to expose a single port unknowingly per mistake (which said port/host combo may not be vulnerable). In a stateful firewall, a screw up could expose all ports on a host or multiple hosts in a single mistake.

Then there are the firewall software bugs. In PAT, such bugs don’t suddenly expose all your hosts behind the firewall for direct communication from the outside world. In v6 stateful firewall, such a bug could allow circumvention of the entire firewall ruleset and the hosts would be directly addressable from the outside.

PAT offers the smallest of security safeguards. However, many corp IT personnel feel more secure having that small safeguard in place along with the many other safeguards they deploy. In a corporate environment where they often love to break everything and anything, I don’t blame them.

Then we go to the educational sector, where the admins often prefer as much openness as possible. In their case, they will prefer to do away with PAT.


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