(also network Test Access Point, TAP)
A network tap is a hardware device or software tool that monitors network traffic by creating a copy of the data packets that pass through a network connection. Network taps provide real-time visibility into the data flowing across a network, enabling network administrators and security professionals to analyze, troubleshoot, and secure network infrastructures.
See also: packet capture, logical topology
Network tap vs. port mirroring: Port mirroring is a method used by network switches to copy network traffic from a specific port to another designated port for analysis. While both network taps and port mirroring provide visibility into network traffic, taps offer a more comprehensive and non-intrusive view of the data flow, while port mirroring may introduce latency or drop packets under a heavy network load.
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