In the modern interconnected digital environment, businesses rely heavily on their networks to maintain smooth operations, efficient communication, and data exchange. As per TechTarget Report, Cybercriminals will be able to steal more than 33 billion records by 2023 (175% from 2018). However, the majority of cyberattacks happen via networks, making them a crucial resource for understanding threats to an organization and its systems. This is where Network Traffic Analysis (NTA) comes into play.
Let’s dig more profoundly into the practice of overseeing network activities to gain valuable insights into potential threats and IT-related issues.
What is Network Traffic Analysis?
In the realm of network management, the capability to handle diverse forms of traffic is a fundamental aspect of design. However, it’s important to recognize that not all network activities carry the same weight. The ability to discern potential security vulnerabilities and pinpoint uncommon operations that might trigger problems, including network downtime, becomes pivotal.
This is precisely where Network Traffic Analysis (NTA) assumes a crucial role. Network traffic analysis involves the methodical scrutiny of a network’s actions and accessibility. This approach includes the continuous monitoring of data movement across distinct sections of the network, encompassing details such as data content, timing, and locations.
Why is network traffic analysis important?
NTA revolves around safeguarding your data origins, guaranteeing peak network performance, and spotting potentially harmful traffic trends. Here are several reasons why organizations should adopt it.
- Automatic Network Anomaly Detection: Unlike traditional solutions that may miss changes caused by normal network behavior, network traffic analysis tools automatically identify anomalies without manual monitoring. Cybersecurity experts utilize these tools to swiftly detect and address threats, leveraging contextual information for efficient resolution.
- Security Insights: Once a threat is recognized, an NTA solution can extract distinct attributes, such as IP addresses, which serve as building blocks for indicators of compromise (IoCs). This data can help detect additional threats and preemptively thwart future attack attempts.
- Traffic Analysis: Network traffic analysis offers detailed traffic data for devices, offering valuable insights into the reasons behind sudden increases in traffic. By observing the frequency, volume, and timing of these spikes, you can discern whether they stem from increased productivity or potentially indicate a hacking attempt.
- Always-On Network Accessibility: For any organization, constant network availability is vital. Network traffic analysis offers insights into network uptime, improving performance. The swift component analysis identifies downtime sources, aiding security teams in threat detection and minimizing user disruptions.
- Robust Network Performance: To maintain peak network availability, tracking performance and resource usage is essential. Network Traffic Analysis (NTA) enables efficient network capacity planning by identifying upgrade needs and locating bandwidth issues. Moreover, NTA helps pinpoint redundant resources, aiding in cost-reduction efforts.
How to Analyze Network Traffic?
Delving into your network’s traffic might seem overwhelming. It encompasses the collection, storage, and monitoring of data moving across on-premises, hybrid, or multi-cloud setups. Navigating this data for network planning and design requires visualization and search capabilities. Additionally, timely notifications are essential for efficient troubleshooting. Managing all these aspects can feel like a lot to handle. To ease your concerns, let’s simplify the process by breaking down the necessary steps:
- Identify Data Sources: Recognize your organization’s data sources, including software, servers, and networking devices, essential for traffic analysis.
- Access Method Selection: Choose between agent-based and agentless data collection methods, considering granular data needs and overall system insights.
- Initial Data Sampling: Begin data collection from a subset of sources, ensuring diverse datasets are covered, especially for larger networks.
- Continuous Monitoring: Establish continuous analysis to uncover security gaps and localized issues, enhancing real-time evaluation and problem resolution.
- Effective IT Notifications: Configure alerts strategically to avoid overwhelming your IT team while ensuring critical issues are promptly addressed. Custom thresholds strike the right balance.
What Challenges Does Network Traffic Analysis Solve?
As organizations evolve, they encounter a growing number of network monitoring obstacles—ranging from the oversight of network performance to tracking and enhancement. By adopting an NTA solution, enterprises can effectively mitigate these challenges using proactive approaches. Let’s embark on an in-depth exploration.
- Traffic Monitoring and Uncovering Network Weaknesses: For businesses, monitoring access to network resources such as file servers and databases is crucial. This practice offers valuable insights into network interactions, helping to discern who is accessing the network and their motivations.
- Detects Malware Activity: Neglecting network traffic can result in missed chances to prevent potential attacks. Identifying and removing security threats is essential for sustained network availability and smooth business operations. NTA is used to safeguard segments beyond the firewall’s coverage. It plays a vital role in detecting ransomware through analysis of east-west traffic.
- Resolving Network Problems: With an NTA solution, you can pinpoint the origin of network bandwidth spikes and uncover underlying causes, while also obtaining traffic utilization trend analysis.
- Enhancing Insight into Internal Assets: Network Traffic Analysis offers a comprehensive understanding of internal elements like devices, individuals, policies, and vendor integrations within your organization. This furnishes an inventory of active devices, servers, and services operating within the network.
- Recording and Monitoring Network Traffic Data: Linked with network visibility is the capacity to trace user activities on the network through reporting. Possessing such network traffic data aids in problem-solving, setting network standards, anticipating expansion, and delving into network incidents by consolidating comprehensive traffic statistics.
The analysis of network traffic data holds immense value in detecting incoming and ongoing security risks for a company’s digital defenses. Network Traffic Analysis (NTA) solutions have the capability to grant a holistic perspective across an organization’s entire IT framework, presenting the potential to spot threats before they infiltrate the organization’s endpoints.