An Introduction to Network Traffic Monitoring


With the penetrating growth of organization intranets, now more than ever, it is crucial that network security administrators are conscious of the varying forms of traffic that are navigating their networks and how to properly handle them. Your organization’s cybersecurity solution is incomplete without network traffic monitoring and analysis.

Network security trainings and certifications are important for your organization, so you can swiftly troubleshoot and work out network issues the moment they arise. The purpose of this training is to prevent your network services from being on hold for prolonged periods. Several tools are available to assist the Certified Network Defenders with the monitoring and analysis of network traffic.

What is network traffic monitoring?

Network traffic monitoring describes the process by which the devices connected to a network are analyzed, reviewed, and managed, to identify the anomalies or processes that can affect the performance of a network, its availability, or security. Network traffic monitoring, or otherwise network flow monitoring, or network traffic analysis (NTA), is a security analytical tool exploited to detect and give off alerts when issues that would affect the functionality, accessibility, and security of network traffics are detected.

NTA is a network security technique that checks the network traffic of internet-connected devices, the forms of data these devices are retrieving, and the level of bandwidth each device is consuming. Network security administrators and other Certified Network Defenders usually carry out this task. They use network security tools to ensure that critical systems within the networks are functioning properly and readily available.

What do network traffic monitoring and analysis cover?

Network traffic monitoring and analysis solutions can execute active monitoring, such as transferring a ping or executing a TCP request to examine how a network service or server responds. Some network monitor tools also execute passive monitoring, including giving reports about traffic flows and eavesdropping on ports.

A network traffic monitor functions alongside protocols such as DNS, HTTP, SSH, HTTPS, UDP, TELNET, SNMP, SMTP, FTP, SIP, POP3, IMAP, SSL, TCP, ICMP, and Media Streaming. Network traffic monitoring solutions, measure certain components of your traffic network, including network availability, network route analytics, and network response time.

Network traffic monitoring solutions also covers certain network elements such as:

  • Links and Connections: it monitors connections between network components, such as network interfaces.
  • Network Gadgets: this includes, switches, routers, gateways, appliances, and proxies.
  • External Service Providers: this includes cloud services, web hosting, messaging services, and SaaS applications.
  • Mission Critical Servers: This includes email servers, web server monitoring, FTP servers, application servers, and storage systems.

Why is network traffic analysis important?

With the incessant bouts of cyber-attacks today, it can be crushing and overpowering for your security experts and IT teams to make sure most of your organization’s environment is properly secured. With Network traffic monitoring tools, the burden can be lessened.

Using a device that can always monitor and analyze the issues within your network traffic, provides you with the necessary insight you need to optimize the performance of your network, improve security, lessen your attack surface, and advance the administration of your resources. Network traffic monitoring is also important for the following reasons:

  • Stay ahead of outages
  • Improved internal visibility into connected devices on your network (including health care visitors,  IoT devices, etc.)
  • Eliminating blind spot
  • Meet compliance necessities
  • Spotting malware activities, including ransomware
  • Troubleshoot operational and security issues and fix issues faster
  • Gain immediate ROI
  • Detecting vulnerable protocols and ciphers
  • Responding to investigations faster with rich detail and additional network context
  • Gathering historical records and real-time analysis of what is occurring on your network
  • Report on SLAs

What are the major risks in network security monitoring?

Every year, thousands of security risks and vulnerabilities are revealed in IT infrastructures, software, and systems. Cybercriminals abuse these vulnerabilities to infiltrate the organization’s communications networks and also to have access to significant assets.

Attackers have different motives for infiltrating your network traffic, including personal, competitive, financial, and political motives. The core purpose of this malicious activity is to compromise the integrity, confidentiality, and accessibility of systems or data. Since security vulnerabilities can cause severe damage, your network security administrator must have ample knowledge about network security to mitigate these security issues.

Below are some of the most common risks in network security:

Computer viruses

Computer viruses are the most common risks in cybersecurity. Virus attacks can present huge threats to any organization regardless of its size. A recent statistic suggests that 33 percent of home-based or personal computers are compromised by one form of malware or the other, of which viruses rank the highest.

Viruses can compromise your files, remove important data, and negatively disrupt your regular operations. Viruses are notorious for corrupting and stealing valuable data, sending spam, deleting everything on your hard drive, or deactivate your security settings.

Computer worm

Worms are sent by manipulating security vulnerabilities. Computer worms are fragments of malware packages that are designed to duplicate rapidly and distribute themselves from one computer or device to the next. Usually, worms spread from an infected device by distributing itself from the infected computer, and from the infected computer to all other devices that comes in contact with it.

Rogue security software

Most often people think that network breaches are caused by things on their hardware, however, cyber-attackers can cause severe damages from anywhere. Hackers have discovered different ways of committing internet fraud.

Rogue security software is a harmful software that deceives users into believing that their systems have a virus or that their device needs an update. The aim is to prompt the user to act, either to update their security settings or click the download option. However, these actions cause real malware to be installed on your device.


A Rootkit is an assemblage of software applications that allows remote access and control over networks or a computer. Rootkits are mounted by concealing themselves in genuine software. They work by gaining permission to adjust your OS, after which the rootkit installs itself in your device, and waits for the cybercriminal to activate it.

Adware and spyware

Adware is any software that tracks data from your browsing behaviors and uses the information gathered to show you commercials and pop-ups. The data are collected with your consent and are even legitimate sources used by organizations.

However, adware becomes malicious when it is downloaded without your knowledge. The Spyware functions in the same manner as adware, except that your permission is not requested for installation.

Trojan horse

Trojan horse spreads by email and when you click a deceitful commercial. A trojan horse or simply Trojan is malicious software or code that deceives users into voluntarily running the software, by concealing itself behind an authentic database.

DDoS and DoS attacks

Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and denial-of-service (DoS) attacks are popular risks for your network security. DDoS and DoS merely differ because DDoS exploits multiple internet connections to make the user’s network or computer inaccessible to them, while DoS exploits one internet-connected device or network to saturate the user’s computer or networks with malicious traffic.

SQL injection attack

An SQL injection attack is a widespread attack vector that permits a malicious hacker to carry out malicious SQL statements for backend database operation or confine the queries that an application makes to its database. Malicious actors exploit SQL Injection vulnerabilities to evade login and other significant application security measures.

Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks

Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks are security attacks that permit the malicious actor to listen to the communication between two users, which should be private. Types of MITM include IP spoofing, DNS spoofing, SSL hijacking, HTTPS spoofing, Wi-Fi hacking, and ARP spoofing.

How do you analyze network traffic?

Analyzing network traffic in large organizations differ from home-based network security monitoring. You can hire a Certified Network Defender or try the following options:

Identify network data sources

The first step in an operative Network traffic monitoring and analysis is to obtain visibility by unifying data from various sources. The core data sources for network monitoring include packet data, flow data, wi-fi data, and device data.

Uncover computers and applications traversing your network

The second step is to discover the applications, devices, users, VPNs, and interfaces, running on your network. You can use a network topology mapper to automatically uncover those traversing your network and the applications consuming your bandwidth.

Implement the correct network traffic monitoring solution

Aside from your network topology mapper, you need effective Network traffic monitoring tools. The right tools should include NetFlow analyzer, Proactive Alerts, Network Monitoring Reports, and Network Performance Dashboard.

Use specific network manufactures

The specific network toolset you apply can determine the success or failure of your network traffic monitoring. Although most manufacturers brand their products as not needing specialized network monitoring solutions, these assertions usually come with exceptions. Thus, you’ll need a network monitoring package that can consume data from several vendors to grasp the whole network.

Optimize your network traffic

Last but not least, is the optimization of your network traffic. The four key areas which need optimization, include the optimization of your overall network performance, optimization of video, voice, and unified communications, optimization through forensic analysis, and optimization to quality of service (QoS) points.

How to become a Network Security Administrator

If you want to become a network security administrator, you need to be a certified network defender. You need an MBA or bachelor’s degree in a related field of information and computer technology. Also, some vendors offer certification programs. Certification authenticates best practices and knowledge and needed by network security administrators.

About CND: Certified Network Defender

The Certified Network Defender (CND) is a certification program that creates savvy network administrators who are well-trained in identifying, defending, responding, and mitigating all network-related vulnerabilities and attacks. The CND certification program involves hands-on labs constructed through notable network security software, tools, and techniques that will provide the certified network defender with real-world and up-to-date proficiencies about network security technologies and operations. Click here, for more information on EC-Council’s CND program.

get certified from ec-council


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