The exhaustion of the IPv4 address supply has been predicted since the end of the 1980s. However, the large scale adoption of mobile devices and their associated IPv4 addressing needs accelerated the exhaustion timetable, and placed increased pressure on network operators to conserve IPv4 addresses
This pressure has resulted in a marked increase in the use of technologies, such as Network Address Translation (NAT), that allow pools of addresses to be shared across multiple endpoints. These mechanisms enable the reuse of the limited pool of available IPv4 addresses, resulting in the number of connected endpoints vastly outnumbering the number of addresses in use in the public internet.
This has three important implications for Internet technology developers, and those who depend on certain behaviors of the technology.
Application designers need to consider the fact that an IP address does not necessarily identify an endpoint.
Law enforcement and forensic functions need to consider that an IP address alone may not be sufficient to correlate Internet activity observations with an endpoint; and even an IP address associated timestamp generally may not suffice.
Data retention mechanisms and policies that record or reference an IP address need to refactor their actions and requirements to consider that in increasingly large parts of the Internet, an IP address is merely a temporary identifier. Potentially large volumes of ancillary data are required to match an IP address to an endpoint.
Speakers provisionally confirmed: