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Introducing What A Sniffer Is

By Barak Weichselbaum

You may hear someone mention a sniffer when referring to computers and networking and have no idea what they are really referring to. People talk about these in reference to software programs or software devices set up with the appropriate software in order to probe or snoop network traffic, in others words they sniff out data that is passed over the network wires.

Their primary use is to monitor the network traffic and to watch everything going on. They determine where information is going, where it is coming from and looking at what it is. It is capable of filtering certain types of data and capturing certain information, such as passwords. There are some very sophisticated programs that are even able to rebuild date that has been sent over the internet network, like an email or web pages.

The main goal of these devices and programs is to generally keep the flow of traffic running smoothly. They allow administrators to monitor and analyze the network traffic to detect problems and traffic jams, otherwise known as bottlenecks. Many schools have started to add these to their academic networks to prevent these bottlenecks that can be caused by the file sharing programs many students now use.

In the beginning, these programs and devices were mainly used by network engineers and administrators to ensure the flow of traffic over networks and to keep things running smoothly. But as with everything today, technology advances quickly, allowing the everyday public access to these programs. Some are merely curious about things and how they work, while others, like hackers, may use them for their own benefit.

Understanding how they work requires an understanding of how a network works. But basically a computer has a network interface card, or an NIC. The NIC is made to listen only to packets of data addressed to it and to ignore every other piece of information going through the network. When this snooping program interferes, they will tell the NIC to listen to all the data that is coming through by putting the NIC in special mode, otherwise known as promiscuous mode. If that happens, it allows it to capture every little piece of date that is being passed between computers, which allows it to decode, store and do much more with that information.

Educating yourself more on what a sniffer is can help you prepare for a time when you may have to deal with one. As these are assets to many large companies, you’ll now be able to at least understand what everyone is talking about when the term comes up again in the office or among colleagues and friends.

Want to probe or snoop network traffic? Sniffer software programs are ideal. Get the super low down now in our complete sniffers guide.

Article kindly provided by UberArticles.com

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Weichselbaum, Barak "Introducing What A Sniffer Is." Introducing What A Sniffer Is. 2 Jul. 2010. uberarticles.com. 4 Aug 2014 <http://uberarticles.com/computers-and-technology/software/introducing-what-a-sniffer-is/>.

APA Style Citation:
Weichselbaum, B (2010, July 2). Introducing What A Sniffer Is. Retrieved August 4, 2014, from http://uberarticles.com/computers-and-technology/software/introducing-what-a-sniffer-is/

Chicago Style Citation:
Weichselbaum, Barak "Introducing What A Sniffer Is" uberarticles.com. http://uberarticles.com/computers-and-technology/software/introducing-what-a-sniffer-is/


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