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Network sniffing

Network sniffing

(also packet sniffing, data sniffing)

Network sniffing definition

Network sniffing is a process that involves capturing, examining, and observing data packets as they travel through a network. This method is frequently employed by network administrators to detect network problems, oversee bandwidth consumption, and address performance issues. On the other hand, cybercriminals may utilize network sniffing to surreptitiously access confidential information like login details, personal data, or financial transactions for nefarious purposes.

See also: packet sniffing, network security protocols

Network sniffing examples

  • Wireshark: A popular open-source network protocol analyzer used by network professionals to inspect and analyze data packets transmitted across a network.
  • Tcpdump: A command-line packet analyzer tool that captures and displays packets from a network interface for troubleshooting purposes.

Comparing network sniffing to similar terms

Deep packet inspection (DPI): DPI is a more advanced form of network sniffing that not only captures packet headers but also examines the data payload to identify patterns, detect intrusions, or enforce data policies.

Network sniffing pros and cons


  • Helps network administrators identify and resolve network issues.
  • Assists in monitoring network usage and detecting unauthorized access.


  • Can be exploited by cybercriminals to intercept sensitive data.
  • May raise privacy concerns when used without user consent.

Tips for preventing network sniffing attacks:

  • Use a VPN like NordVPN to encrypt your data and protect it from being intercepted.
  • Ensure that sensitive websites use HTTPS and SSL/TLS encryption.
  • Implement strong access controls and network segmentation.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security