What is Network Sniffing in Cyber Security?

Written By Sambita Panigrahy  
Anuraag Singh
Approved By Anuraag Singh 
Published On November 29th, 2023
Reading Time 5 Minutes Reading

Network sniffing in cyber security is the technique of continuously monitoring all the data packets that go through a network. Network and system administrators use the Sniffer software to track and analyze network traffic.

Attackers use sniffer devices to intercept data packets, including sensitive account and password information. The system integrates sniffers as either hardware or software. A hostile intruder can use a packet sniffer in casual mode on a network to gather and examine all network traffic.

A network sniffer is also known as a packet sniffer because every packet of data is examined as it travels over the network to prevent network-related problems. The packet sniffer program looks into data theft, cybercrime, and hacking. It can be used for both morally ethical and unethical 

Note: Network Sniffers sometimes refers to as network probes, packet sniffers, packet analyzers, ethernet sniffers, or simply snoops. 

Let us know how many types of network sniffing are practiced in our network system. 

Types of Network Sniffing 

Network sniffing can either be active sniffing or passive sniffing.

Active Sniffing: Sending specially designed packets to one or more network targets in order to retrieve sensitive data is known as active sniffing. Network sniffing attackers frequently get around security features that would otherwise prevent data from being captured by employing specially constructed packets. Injecting malicious code into target computers during active sniffing enables attackers to seize control or steal confidential data.

Passive Sniffing: In the passive attack, the hacker monitors traffic that is passing through the network without interfering in any way. The hacker doesn’t interact with the target in this sniff. This type of attack can be beneficial for the marks on a network and the types of data they are transmitting because it does not involve any interference in the target system and it is less. It is also like to raise suspicion more than other types of attacks.

After knowing about network sniffing in cyber security and the types of network sniffers, let us understand the various types of Network Sniffers. 

Different Kinds of Network Sniffers

The following are the different types of sniffers:

  • Mac Sniffers: These sniffers use sniffed data that is relevant to the Mac. 
  • Protocol Sniffers: They sniff the data on the network for network protocol.
  • LAN Sniffers: This type of device is primarily employed in internal systems or networks. It can also inspect a wide range of IP addresses. 
  • IP Sniffers: These sniffers sniff all data that is relevant to a specific IP filter. It records the data packets for analysis and diagnosis. IP sniffers record network traffic and offer the data in a typically readable format for analysis. Network administrators and hackers of all shades can use them to examine a network’s current state, find network vulnerabilities, and gauge network performance.
  • ARP Sniffers: In this sniffing, packets are sent to the ARP caches of both network hosts rather than being delivered solely to the host and sent to the network administrator. Additionally, it enables attackers to perform packet spoofing, poisoning, and other attacks by mapping IP addresses to MAC addresses.
  • Password Sniffers: This is the technique that is used for extracting information from network traffic to harvest passwords. Attackers use stolen credentials and other information. Websites that don’t have an SSL protocol encryption to protect themselves are vulnerable to attack and exploitation. 

Consequences of the Network Sniffing Attacks

A successful sniffing attack may have consequences for the targets. These can include:

  • Loss of sensitive data such as login credentials, financial details, and email messages.
  • Infections of malicious code into the target systems allow the attackers to control devices or access sensitive information. 
  • Interruption of network traffic can cause communication problems and reduce network performance. 
  • Disclosure of personal data and other confidential information
  • The damage to the reputation of the organization whose network has been compromised

Preventive Measures for Sniffing Attacks 

There are many ways to prevent network sniffing; some key measures include:

  • You must use encryption to protect your personal data from being intercepted.  
  • Never send sensitive information over unencrypted connections.
  • Must ensure that every system connecting to the network has updated antivirus and firewall software.
  • Must be sure that the wireless network is secure using WPA or WEP encryption. 
  • Organizations should regularly update all the software and devices with the latest security patches. 
  • Must use the VPN when connecting to the public network
  • They should stay away from the type of traffic passing through the networks and take preventive steps to protect sensitive information. 
  • Continuously monitoring the network for unusual activities. 

Ending Lines

Network Sniffing in cyber security techniques presents serious threats to both individuals and organizations. Its goal is to gather information about the traffic on the network, including user credentials, email addresses, and other sensitive data. And for that, you can opt for the solution in which you can monitor your digital infrastructure and receive industry-leading practices.

Therefore, it is well-said that prevention is better than cure, so it will be better for administrators to opt for professional NOC services and secure their networks before it’s too late.