Blue Coat Systems has updated its PacketShaper appliance software, adding a new ability to detect and monitor “shadow” or "back door" IPv6 traffic running secretly across company networks.

The case for detecting IPv6 is under-discussed in Blue Coat’s view and includes a number of anxieties focused on compliance and security.

Although tiny against IPv4, IPv6 traffic is creeping on to business networks through unauthorised P2P applications designed to bypass controls, or when using tablets and smartphones accessing mainstream sites such as YouTube and Netflix, the company said.

Criminals and intelligence services have also started experimenting with IPv6 to get command and control traffic into and out of firewalls, which turns the protocol into an invisible back door.

PacketShaper 9.0 offers a way for admins to see IPv6 traffic at the application level, integrated with the system’s established IPv4 classification engine.

“PacketShaper gives businesses the ability to regain control of their networks to monitor compliance with IPv6 evolutions, audit against security and infrastructure migration plans, and align with business priorities,” said Blue Coat’s chief scientist, Qing Li.

The tendency has been to see IPv6 visibility as an avant-garde issue but since last year’s successful World IPv6 Day Blue Coat is probably correct in seeing that assumption as out of date. Ahead of this year’s re-run, IPv6 has gained a small but critical foothold, albeit one that doesn’t look impressive in terms of volumes.

PacketShaper 9.0 is available as a free upgrade now for the 10000 and 12000 platforms. Other new features include a throughput capability up to 8Gbps for data centres, or 3.5Gbps to 5Gbps in WAN gateways.

Blue Coat was taken private in February after a $1.3 billion deal with private equity house Thoma Bravo.