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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.