What is a Sniffer and How to Prevent Spy Attack


If you are into the world of computing, you may have already come across the term «Sniffer» and you want to know what it is exactly, but no matter what page you look on, you only find texts with terms that are difficult to understand and, it seems that a “Sniffer” is something that only an applied person in the computer science area can understand.

Well, it’s not like that! Here we will easily explain what a Sniffer is, what it is for and other information that you should take into account about this interesting software.

What is a Sniffer?

It is a software in the world of computing that monitors and analyzes data packets entering and leaving a network, This network can be one between two devices or the entire network of a company.

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The detail of the Sniffer and is which makes it look like a dangerous thing in the world of computing, is that those data packets that it monitors and analyzes are those that pass through the network, but they are not intended for you.

woman typing on her laptop

To understand this better, let’s imagine that you have a Sniffer and that everyone in your home is connected to the same network, at this moment someone is sending emails, as that person is connected to the same network as you, the Sniffer allows you to see those emails in addition to obtaining private data, all without the person realizing it, since, if you are intercepted by a Sniffer there is no way to know, but spying is not the only purpose.

What is it for?

  1. Allows full management and control of one person’s network or institution making you aware of all the data that enters and leaves the LAN. So a Sniffer serves parents who want to know what their children are doing online or a company that wants to be aware of the employees who handle sensitive information.
  2. Allows a complete evaluation of the network to detect failures, that is, by checking all the data that comes in and goes out, it can detect those that behave in a “strange” way like a document that cannot be sent.
  3. Detect intruders in the system blocking and deleting them immediately.

So as we see a Sniffer serves to have full control over a LAN network and under the control of certain people it is not dangerous or illegal, but we fully recognize that this software can be used by malicious individuals.

We do not want you to end this post traumatized, so we will easily explain 5 ways to prevent Sniffer attacks, you will see that you will not have to worry about hacker attacks.

Sniffers: How many types of sniffers are there in computing?

The truth is that there are several types of sniffing, but in general terms we could categorize them into two large groups, passive sniffing and active sniffing.

Passive sniffing

The goal of passive sniffing is to observe all the traffic that passes through a connection / network. It is especially effective when all computers are connected to the same network. Similarly, its most striking feature is that it is undetectable.

watch out spying and sniffing

Sniffing active

On the other hand, what we call active sniffing, since contemplates performing an intervention / attack directly on the ARP (address resolution protocol). In this way, traffic is saturated and allows entry into the network, being more specific to the switch / router involved.

What is a network or packet sniffer used for?

The sniffer, also known as a packet analyzer or sniffer, is a software designed for the analysis and monitoring of network movements. In short, computers send packets, which are known as network traffic, in turn each computer has its own address, which is what we know as IP.

The packet scanner analyzes all these movements, in fact, the packet analyzer is able to see the information of a network. For this reason it is fair to point out that a Sniffer can be used to steal information, in other words, it can also be considered malware.

How to detect a Sniffing on my local network

There are several ways to detect a Sniffing within the network, but you must bear in mind that many of these methods contemplate have advanced computer skills. Even so, you should not worry too much, as these types of attacks are very rare.

In any case, it is worth knowing the most recommended tools to detect sniffing on the network. Some of the most common programs to protect ourselves from this type of attack are Antisniff, Sentinel and SNORT, among others.

Steps to eliminate a Sniffing and protect my network against spying

Way 1

You can download a SnifferAs it were, you will attack fire with fire, after all, installing a Sniffer is the best option to protect your data from malicious people.

To download a Sniffer there are many apps on the market, which you must be careful before downloading, since, by means of the permissions you grant before installation, you could give external users control over your data.

That is why when looking to download a Sniffer from your browser, we recommend having a good antivirus that will notify you if the software is reliable.

person with a white mask and laptop in hand

Way 2

This form can be somewhat complex, since you will need a person specialized in the subject, we are talking about data cryptography. It consists of encrypting your data under codes so complex that it makes it difficult for a Sniffer to be able to analyze them and obtain the data within your LAN network.

Way 3

Remember that sniffer analyze data packets What if your data is fragmented? We are talking about network segmentation and encryption.

The Sniffer can only capture data when they are in the same network segment, so, the more segmented the information is, the more difficult you do the job for the Sniffer to obtain your data, for this you can resort to switches such as Lenovo desktop or routers.

Way 4

Try to navigate only on encrypted sites, that is, those that begin with «https», since being encrypted makes it more difficult to compress the data, protecting you from a Sniffer when entering and sending files from any page.

Ways to Protect Yourself from a Sniffing Attack

Although we indicated that the processes to deal with spy sniffing attacks are usually complex, this does not mean that we cannot do anything. In fact, certain very basic measures can help us prevent various spy attacks.

Increase the security of Wi Fi networks

Improving the security of our Wi-Fi connections is essential to protect ourselves from any type of attack, including sniffing. Clearly, the first thing is use a complex password that is difficult to hack. The latter may seem basic, but it is the basis to protect ourselves from any type of attack on our network.

What’s more, it agrees update the software on our router or buy a new oneas some old router protocols greatly compromise network security.

As a final aspect, it is worth knowing the configuration software of our router. You may not know it, but there are many options that we can access that help us protect ourselves. For example, most routers have systems that show the clients of the network, that is, who are connected. In this way, we can see if there is an intruder.

prevent sniffer attacks spying networks

Use a VPN to encrypt content

Using a VPN can help protect the information that is sent over a network. This tool encrypts our identity and our information, for this data is sent to a VPN server and so it is very difficult for them to steal the information you access.

Certainly VPNs they are not the most suitable for local networks, but you can use them in an emergency if you think someone is accessing your information.

Network monitoring

The network monitoring tools They can be useful to protect us against a spy attack, since we can see in advance if there is an intruder. Clearly, most of these programs are intended for advanced users. Even so, there are other simple actions that can be effective as well, at least for basic spy attacks.

For example, as we mentioned before, our routers usually have options to see the clients present there. In turn, it is possible to block access to anyone connected to the network. In this case, if you see someone unknown online, just block the connection and this way you will make sure to protect yourself a little more.

Run deep scan with antivirus

Don’t be fooled, today’s antivirus have very complex and capable tools. In fact, many reputable antiviruses are capable of detect strange fluctuations in the network. It does not hurt to carry out an analysis on your computer, since you could be surprised by malicious software.

On the other hand, for the whole network spying thing, having an active antivirus can assist early intruder detection. Windows Defender is a good tool for this, but you can also use other programs designed for this purpose.

Implement network segmentation

Network segmentation consists of the delimitation of connections. With segmentation, networks are divided for the purpose of have more control over them. In fact, many use the term ‘safe spaces’ to refer to these measures.

This could be especially useful in business or work networks, spaces that are usually the prey of espionage attacks. A network segmentation can help avoid these problems.

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