IPv6 in FortiOS

IPv6 in FortiOS

From an administrative point of view IPv6 works almost the same as IPv4 in FortiOS. The primary differences are the use of IPv6 format for addresses and fewer address types for IPv6. There is also no need for NAT if the FortiGate firewall is the interface between IPv6 networks. If the subnets attached to the FortiGate firewall are IPv6 and IPv4 NAT can be configured between the 2 different formats. This will involve either configuring a dual stack routing or IPv4 tunneling configuration. The reason for this is simple. NAT was developed primarily for the purpose of extending the number of usable IPv4 addresses. IPv6’s addressing allows for enough available addresses so the NAT is no longer necessary.

When configuring IPv6 in FortiOS, you can create a dual stack route or IPv4-IPv6 tunnel. A dual stack routing configuration implements dual IP layers, supporting both IPv4 and IPv6, in both hosts and routers. An IPv4-IPv6 tunnel is essentially similar, creating a tunnel that encapsulates IPv6 packets within IPv4 headers that carry these IPv6 packets over IPv4 tunnels. The FortiGate unit can also be easily integrated into an IPv6 network. Connecting the FortiGate unit to an IPv6 network is exactly the same as connecting it to an IPv4 network, the only difference is that you are using IPv6 addresses.

By default the IPv6 settings are not displayed in the Web-based Manager. It is just a matter of enabling the display of these feature to use them through the web interface. To enable them just go to System > Feature Select and select IPv6. Once enabled, you will be able to use IPv6 addresses as well as the IPv4 addressing for the following FortiGate firewall features:

  • Static routing l Policy Routing l Packet and network sniffing l Dynamic routing (RIPv6, BGP4+, and OSPFv3) l IPsec VPN l DNS l DHCP l SSL VPN
  • Network interface addressing



  • Security Profiles protection l Routing access lists and prefix lists l NAT/Route and Transparent mode l NAT 64 and NAT 66
  • IPv6 tunnel over IPv4 and IPv4 tunnel over IPv6 l Logging and reporting l Security policies
  • SNMP
  • Authentication l Virtual IPs and groups l IPv6 over SCTP
  • IPv6-specific troubleshooting, such as ping6

Dual Stack routing configuration

Dual stack routing implements dual IP layers in hosts and routers, supporting both IPv6 and IPv4. A dual stack architecture supports both IPv4 and IPv6 traffic and routes the appropriate traffic as required to any device on the network. Administrators can update network components and applications to IPv6 on their own schedule, and even maintain some IPv4 support indefinitely if that is necessary. Devices that are on this type of network, and connect to the Internet, can query Internet DNS servers for both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses. If the Internet site supports IPv6, the device can easily connect using the IPv6 address. If the Internet site does not support IPv6, then the device can connect using the IPv4 addresses. In the FortiOS dual stack architecture it is not just the basic addressing functions that operate in both versions of IP. The other features of the appliance such as Security Profiles and routing can also use both IP stacks.

If an organization with a mixed network uses an Internet service provider that does not support IPv6, they can use an IPv6 tunnel broker to connect to IPv6 addresses that are on the Internet. FortiOS supports IPv6 tunneling over IPv4 networks to tunnel brokers. The tunnel broker extracts the IPv6 packets from the tunnel and routes them to their destinations.

IPv6 Tunneling

IPv6 Tunneling is the act of tunneling IPv6 packets from an IPv6 network through an IPv4 network to another IPv6 network. This is different than Network Address Translation (NAT) because once the packet reaches its final destination the true originating address of the sender will still be readable. The IPv6 packets are encapsulated within packets with IPv4 headers, which carry their IPv6 payload through the IPv4 network. This type of configuration is more appropriate for those who have completely transitional over to IPv6, but need an Internet connection, which is still mostly IPv4 addresses.

The key to IPv6 tunneling is the ability of the 2 devices, whether they are a host or a network device, to be dual stack compatible. They have to be able to work with both IPv4 and IPv6 at the same time. In the process the entry node of the tunnel portion of the path will create an encapsulating IPv4 header and transmit the encapsulated packet. The exit node at the end of the tunnel receives the encapsulated packet. The IPv4 header is removed.

The IPv6 header is updated and the IPv6 packet is processed.

There are two types of tunnels in IPv6:


Automatic tunnels Automatic tunnels are configured by using IPv4 address information embedded in an IPv6 address – the IPv6 address of the destination host includes information about which IPv4 address the packet should be tunneled to.
Configured tunnels Configured tunnels must be configured manually. These tunnels are used when using IPv6 addresses that do not have any embedded IPv4 information. The IPv6 and IPv4 addresses of the endpoints of the tunnel must be specified.

Tunnel Configurations

There are a few ways in which the tunneling can be performed depending on which segment of the path between the end points of the session the encapsulation takes place.

Network Device to Network Device Dual stack capable devices connected by an IPv4 infrastructure can tunnel IPv6 packets between themselves. In this case, the tunnel spans one segment of the path taken by the IPv6 packets.
Host to Network Device Dual stack capable hosts can tunnel IPv6 packets to an intermediary IPv6 or IPv4 network device that is reachable through an IPv4 infrastructure. This type of tunnel spans the first segment of the path taken by the IPv6 packets.
Host to Host Dual stack capable hosts that are interconnected by an IPv4 infrastructure can tunnel IPv6 packets between themselves. In this case, the tunnel spans the entire path taken by the IPv6 packets.
Network Device to Host Dual stack capable network devices can tunnel IPv6 packets to their final destination IPv6 or IPv4 host. This tunnel spans only the last segment of the path taken by the IPv6 packets.

Regardless of whether the tunnel starts at a host or a network device, the node that does the encapsulation needs to maintain soft state information, such as the maximum transmission unit (MTU), about each tunnel in order to process the IPv6 packets.

Tunneling IPv6 through IPsec VPN

A variation on the tunneling IPv6 through IPv4 is using an IPsec VPN tunnel between to FortiGate devices. FortiOS supports IPv6 over IPsec. In this sort of scenario, 2 networks using IPv6 behind FortiGate units are separated by the Internet, which uses IPv4. An IPsec VPN tunnel is created between the 2 FortiGate units and a tunnel is created over the IPv4 based Internet but the traffic in the tunnel is IPv6. This has the additional advantage of make the traffic secure as well.

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