In this article, we are going to discuss packet sniffing. By the end of the article, you will be more knowledgeable about what the process entails and how hackers use the same technology to spy on us and plan attacks.
What is a Packet Sniffer?
Packet sniffers are hardware or software technologies used to monitor traffic on a network. In the market, they are interchangeably referred to in the terms; wireless sniffers, packet analyzers, protocol analyzers, or network analyzers.
What packet analyzers primarily do is intercept data transmitted over a network and interpret it in a form readable by humans. Computers communicating on a network will have streams of packets flowing between them. It is the task of packet sniffers to examine each individual packet for identification before sending it to the intended destination.
How do Packet Sniffers work?
In an organization, several components need to communicate at one point in time to ensure performance. A healthy network will have information getting transferred to the correct destinations at a reliable speed as per the network’s bandwidth and throughput.
Whether the network is wired connections or wireless, data gets transferred in packets. The packets vary in format depending on the network protocol- TCP/UDP. Each packet has control information indicating the source and intended destination. Once a packet in transit reaches a particular node, the node examines its control information. If its destination IP address matches that of the node, the file is received. Otherwise, the packet keeps roaming throughout the network until it reaches its intended destination.
Why do we Need Packet Sniffers?
Nodes in a network are programmed to listen to the packets in transit and only receive what the sender intended. Any other packet not intended for the node is supposed to be dropped and completely ignored. However, this is unfortunately not the only condition doable. In a certain network, you might have specific nodes non-compliant with this programming. These nodes can collect any source of data irrespective of their destination address. In an organization, this possibility can get very detrimental to the company.
Packer analyzers are therefore incorporated into networks to solve this issue. Anyone running the packet analyzers defines the fate of communication in the organization. In most instances, a network administrator is incharge, but hackers could just as quickly attain access to the sniffers. Someone packet sniffing your data will have the liberty to see all your passwords for different accounts(may include bank accounts), read your texts, and keep a trail of all the websites you have visited.
Hackers are subtle when sniffing; they will not capture a packet not intended for them. Instead, they capture it and copy it before releasing it back in transit.
Packet sniffing is essential for organizations. It helps maintain a safe, reliable, and trustworthy network. Network administrators use these sniffers to
- Diagnose the network and troubleshoot any problems detected.
- Monitor activities in a network and block access to all malicious websites that could be avenues for virus and ransomware injections.
- Filter Network Traffic
Packet sniffing is a best-case practice for organizations and oughts to be implemented undoubtedly.
There are two types of packet sniffers: Hardware sniffers and software sniffers.
Hardware sniffers are plugged into a network to examine it. The most prevalent sniffers today are software-based that are offered as a service.
They are a worthwhile investment in any communications network by giving you timely insights into your performance and vulnerabilities before any adverse scenarios come into play.