If you run a small business, or manage a network, from time to time you may need to know what people have been doing. It’s only sensible: after all, if it’s your network, you’re ultimately responsible if anyone gets up to anything illegal. While there are a number of commercial solutions available, they won’t do much more than today’s freeware pick, Wireshark.
Wireshark, formerly known as Ethereal, has all the best qualities: open-source, cross-platform, and free. It sniffs the packets on your network in order to analyse the traffic so that you can build up a picture of what’s been happening. It can detect and decode over 50,000 different network protocols across all network layers and can do this on just about any physical network connection.
Once you’ve got Wireshark’s packet sniffer up and running, you can monitor traffic on your network through the intuitive GUI, and start setting filters to exclude data that you’re not interested in, making it easier to pay attention to the traffic you do want to keep an eye on. Wireshark not only monitors internet traffic, but can also handle VoIP data and certain kinds of encrypted traffic.
It may seem a bit harsh and Orwellian to be carrying out packet inspection, but if you suspect that your network is being used for mischievous purposes, you owe it to yourself to find out what is going on. Wireshark is more than up to the task of analysing your network data, and it a quick, clean and simple way to do so. Try it out today, and give yourself some peace of mind.
[Image by Skpy]