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How to Analyze Network Traffic

Knowing how to analyze network traffic provides you with “who, what and when information” about activity on your network. This information can be used to improve the performance, the security and the general management of your network. However, not all network traffic analysis tools provide sufficient information to effectively troubleshoot network issues, prevent unauthorized activity or identify unused network resources.

This is because flow-based network traffic analysis tools only provide top-level information such as IP addresses and traffic volumes. If you want to analyze network traffic more thoroughly – and monitor activity on websites, users, applications, files, hosts, etc. – you need tools with deep packet analysis in order to drill down and see a specific conversation in depth, identify the individuals involved in the conversation, and monitor their access to and usage of resources.

How Deep Packet Network Traffic Analysis Works

Deep packet network traffic analysis uses wire data analytics to extract metadata from network packets and convert it into readable format. Network administrators can drill down into the metadata to establish what devices are active on the network, what applications and protocols they are using, and what data they are accessing. Being able to monitor and analyze network traffic this deeply gives administrators total visibility across the whole network.

By providing much richer data than traditional flows, deep packet network traffic analysis can identify bottlenecks in the network, see what applications are hogging resources and bandwidth, and alert administrators to trends in file name changes – a typical indicator of a ransomware attack. Alerts can be set up to advise administrators of any unusual activity or network anomalies – mitigating the risks of standard port numbers being used for non-standard purposes, malware and insider theft.

Analyze Network Traffic Agent-Free

In order to maximize the effectiveness of deep packet network traffic analysis, the solution implemented to analyze network traffic should be agent-free. Agent-free solutions connect to the network via the core switch and a monitoring or mirror port; whereas solutions that use agents have to have software installed on every device connected to the network – making this type of solution impractical if your organization provides a public access or BYOD network.

Agent-free solutions to analyze network traffic are non-intrusive and have no impact on network performance. They monitor activity in real time and store metadata from network packets in their own databases. The databases can be accessed via a web-based “Central Management” portal through which administrators can perform forensics to diagnose recent network issues. The solutions also have the advantage of being quick to deploy and simple to maintain.

Network Traffic Analysis for Remote Sites

If your organization has a centralized IT team, agent-free solutions enable network traffic analysis for remote sites. Metadata is captured by sensors deployed on physical or virtual platforms at the remote sites and sent to the “Central Management” portal. The metadata is stored centrally to provide a single point of reference for all activity on the network, and to allow administrators to analyze network traffic at remote sites with the same degree of depth as if the packets had traveled through the local network.

For organizations in regulated industries, agent-free network traffic analysis solutions for remote sites help comply with industry standards for the integrity and security of data. By being able to analyze network traffic at remote sites, and create audit reports on user and network activity, organizations fulfil their risk assessment obligations and are able to implement measures to ensure the integrity of data – no matter what type of network they operate, and what devices are connected to the network.

Analyze Network Traffic with LANGuardian Free for Thirty Days

LANGuardian from NetFort is an industry-leading, agent-free, deep packet network traffic analysis solution that generates and stores metadata in rich detail for multiple network performance, security and management use cases. Quick to download and deploy on standard hardware or VMWare – and simple to maintain – LANGuardian can provide total visibility across an organization´s entire network within minutes.

LANGuardian is trusted by more than 400,000 users to discover what is really happening on their networks, and we invite you to analyze your network traffic using our network traffic analysis solution free for thirty days. No contracts or credit cards are required to take advantage of this opportunity. Simply download the free trial now, or contact us with any questions you have about how LANGuardian can meet your organization´s requirements.


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