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Network telescope

Network telescope

Network telescope definition

Network telescope refers to a set of IP addresses intentionally kept inactive in order to observe and analyze internet traffic, especially malicious activity. It is also known as a packet telescope, cyber telescope, or Internet telescope.

The idea behind it is that since no legitimate services would use the IP address, all the traffic directed to them is either a mistake or malicious intent, such as Internet background radiation (IBR) from worms and viruses, denial-of-service attacks, and other unsolicited traffic.

See also: computer network defense, IoT botnet, IP surveillance

Where is network telescope used:

  • Cybersecurity research. Primarily, it is used to gain valuable data, understand trends in cyber threats, analyze the behavior of malicious software, and study Internet phenomenons like scanning behavior.
  • Detecting malware. Since network telescopes collect unsolicited traffic, they can help detect malware and botnets by observing patterns of behavior and identifying unusual or suspicious traffic.
  • Network anomaly detection. Companies can use them to detect anomalies or unusual behavior in network traffic, which could indicate a security threat.
  • Early warning systems. They can serve as an early warning system for emerging threats.
  • Incident response and forensics. Investigators can use the data collected by the network telescope after an attack to understand the nature of the attack, such as its source and how it was conducted.
  • Internet infrastructure health. By looking at the broader trends in unsolicited traffic, researchers can understand the overall health of the internet infrastructure.
  • Policy and regulation. By helping understand the effectiveness of various mitigation strategies, network telescopes can give insight into the need for new legislation.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security