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Network Forensic Tools: The Key to Network Forensics

  • by NetWitness

The world of business and technology is ever-evolving, and in this new digital age, network security and threat detection is more important than ever to any successful organization’s IT infrastructure. However, without a robust system of cyber security measures, businesses can easily become vulnerable to hackers, malware, viruses, and other attacks launched by malicious actors. As such, it’s vital for organizations like yours to take a proactive approach to protect their networks from these threats.

Not only do these network security measures ensure the safety of sensitive data and prevent costly breaches, but they also allow businesses to focus on furthering their business goals while minimizing worry about the potential implications of a cyber attack. Moreover, strong network security systems can help protect against both internal and external threats, making it easier to maintain a secure environment throughout your IT infrastructure. But if you’re already a thriving business owner or nationwide company—you already know all that.

However, you may be unfamiliar with just how network forensics and threat detection works—and this is where network forensic tools come into play. That’s why we’re here to explain the ins and outs of network forensic tools, and why your company’s network is best safeguarded by the work of our experts here at NetWitness.

The Basics of Network Forensics

Network forensics is a more specific branch of digital forensics that heavily focuses on monitoring and analyzing network traffic. This monitoring process involves collecting live network traffic and related data from the target system or other devices connected to the same network. It allows your cybersecurity team to identify malicious activity—such as malware attacks, viruses, cyberattacks, and more—before it poses any more of a threat to your business.

Now that you see the importance of network forensics, it easily follows that network forensic tools are essential for any organization looking to ensure its network security. These tools provide invaluable insights into suspicious user behavior and can detect unauthorized access from a variety of external sources. Plus, by collecting evidence related to a cybersecurity incident, they can help organizations discover who was responsible as well as prevent future recurrences of similar incidents.

Types of Network Forensic Tools

Network forensic tools come in many shapes and sizes, from boxed software packages to cloud-based solutions to our unsurpassed network security solutions here at NetWitness. For example—depending on the size of a business and its security needs—it may be beneficial to choose a network forensic tool that offers more comprehensive features like automated packet capture and deep packet inspection, which can help paint a clearer picture of potentially malicious activity on the network. In comparison, smaller businesses may opt for simpler or even managed network security solutions for basic detection measures and alerts of any suspicious activity on their networks. But that’s not all there is to it.

Signature-Based Detection Tools

Signature-based detection tools are easily one of the most common types of network forensic tools used today throughout a variety of industries. These types of tools work by comparing newly collected data to a signature database or “digital fingerprints” of previously identified malware threats. If a match is found, the tool can quickly detect and begin the process of blocking malicious activities, either on its own or in conjunction with other security tools already deployed within the environment.

Signature-based detection tools are also great for organizations like yours because they can provide real-time protection against known threats, as well as rapid detection and response capabilities when new threats emerge. However, the downside is that these tools are not always adequately equipped to detect unknown or highly-advanced malware attacks. Nevertheless, signature-based detection tools are invaluable to any organization’s network security arsenal.

Protocol Analyzers & Packet Sniffers

Protocol analyzers and packet sniffers are also major players in the world of network forensics, allowing users to capture, analyze, and troubleshoot data traffic on a network. These network forensic tools intercept data packets sent across a given network, thus providing your security team with valuable insights into its composition and flow. Moreover, protocol analyzers are heavily used to identify communication protocols being used, detect malicious activity, or troubleshoot performance issues.

Meanwhile, packet sniffers are even more helpful as they provide real-time monitoring capabilities—allowing users to continuously monitor traffic patterns while tracking down suspicious activities or anomalies. And by utilizing both protocol analyzers and packet sniffers, organizations like yours can ensure that their networks remain secure from cyber-attacks and other malicious cyber threats.

Flow Analyzers

Lastly, dedicated flow analyzers are critical to successful network forensic measures, as they allow users to thoroughly analyze the direction and flow of data in a network, typically routed via the NetFlow protocol. As you may have guessed, this network forensic tool is also used to identify suspicious activity on a given network, such as malicious traffic or unauthorized access. Additionally, flow analyzers also provide valuable insights into how well applications and services perform on the network by monitoring response times, packet loss rates, and throughput.

By taking advantage of the advanced features offered by these tools, organizations like yours can ensure that their networks are protected from malicious threats and are able to maintain a high level of performance for their end users. And when it comes to safeguarding your company’s network, there is no clearer option than NetWitness for all of your cybersecurity needs.

The Benefits of Using Network Forensic Tools

Network forensic tools—like those provided by NetWitness—provide a powerful and invaluable resource for businesses to ensure their networks stay secure. Our tools offer deep insight into network activity, providing detailed visibility into traffic flow and patterns of behavior. This allows organizations to quickly identify suspicious activity as well as any anomalies that could indicate malicious threats. And with our network forensic tools, you’ll also find:

Increased Visibility Across the Entire Network

Our NetWitness network forensic tools can provide unprecedented visibility into the inner workings of your enterprise network. These tools can collect and analyze data traffic, identify communication protocols being used, detect malicious activity, and troubleshoot performance issues in real time.

And by leveraging these powerfully advanced features, businesses can gain a comprehensive understanding of their entire network infrastructure while simultaneously identifying potential security risks or vulnerabilities.

Faster Troubleshooting and Incident Response Time

They are also a powerful asset for your internal IT and security teams, enabling faster troubleshooting and incident response times than ever before. Our network forensic tools provide actionable insights into network traffic and activities, allowing your team to quickly identify the source of an issue or threat.

With packet capture and analysis capabilities, as well as detailed reports on security breaches, administrators and first responders can accurately assess the scope of an event in minutes—if not faster. This means that threats can be mitigated efficiently and effectively, keeping your company safe from malicious actors.

Enhanced Security Posture Against Attackers

Last but certainly not least, our network forensic tools are a robust safety measure for enhancing your company’s security posture against incoming and would-be attackers. By analyzing your network traffic, these tools can identify malicious activity quickly and provide detailed insights into the behavior of the attackers, as well as their tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs).

They are also capable of detecting suspicious patterns in communication, uncovering breached data, and revealing information about attack vectors and points of entry. However, most importantly, network forensic tools can also help to identify weaknesses in your current network’s configurations that attackers can exploit. And armed with this knowledge, you can tailor your defensive strategies to better protect your organization from future incoming threats.

Best Practices for Implementing Network Forensic Tools

Though the tools themselves can achieve wonders for your network security, there are some best practices to keep in mind when implementing them. Most importantly, your implementation of any network forensic tools should ensure a comprehensive approach to your network security that covers all angles.

This will involve taking into account the data sources, protocols, and any security measures necessary for a thorough and complete analysis of your network. Additionally, you should create a well-defined plan outlining their goals and objectives, as well as setting up clear expectations and procedures. However, the two most important, bare-minimum best practices for implementing network forensic tools are:

Training Your Employees on Proper Usage of Network Forensic Tools

Effective and timely training is always the most crucial aspect of adequately implementing any new technology into your day-to-day business operations. As such, any employee working hands-on with network forensic tools must be well-trained in the proper usage of network forensic tools. Not only does this guarantee that the tool is used to its fullest potential, but it also helps protect the company from malicious actors.

The chosen network security staff should receive training on how to interpret data from the forensic dataset (you’ll understand why in the next section), as well as best practices for using the tool to detect suspicious behavior or breaches. And with proper training, your operation can ensure that your chosen network forensic tools are used efficiently and securely.

Securing Your Network Data Against Unauthorized Access

Because there is so much that can be done to analyze and protect your network with network forensic tools, it can be easy to overlook the simple things. As such, an essential step for implementing these tools is ensuring your data is securely stored and inaccessible to unauthorized personnel.

Companies like yours will want to implement authentication processes for all users, deploy strong encryption protocols on wired and wireless networks, restrict user access to sensitive files and data, and use firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and other preventive technology solutions. Regularly monitoring the entire environment for any suspicious activity is also an essential task, as automated notifications or alerts of any detected intrusions will help your organization stay one step ahead of attackers. And by taking these steps, companies can ensure their network data remains safe from unauthorized access.

Common Challenges When Using Network Forensic Tools

Using network forensic tools obviously comes with innumerable benefits, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come without its own set of challenges. While they can provide invaluable insights into a company’s security posture and help protect against malicious activity, there are some challenges to be aware of. Firstly, in general, these tools require extensive knowledge and understanding of the technology, as well as proper training on the use of the tools (as we mentioned in the above best practices section). And as such, people frequently run into these struggles when working with their new network forensic tools:

Difficulty Interpreting Results

Using network forensic tools can sometimes be challenging—especially when it comes to interpreting the results. Parsing through this information requires deep technical knowledge and an understanding of cyber security protocols and best practices in order to get the most out of network forensic tools like NetWitness. This can make it challenging to understand the data being presented, as well as any potential threats that may exist on a network.

Furthermore, many network forensic tools are designed for specific types of networks—meaning simpler tools may not give comprehensive information when tasked with analyzing complex or hybrid systems. As such, it’s important to have personnel on your team with the technical expertise and best-practices training necessary for interpreting any variation of results.

Managing the High Volume of Data

The other main challenge that companies like yours face when working with network forensic tools is managing the extensive amount of data that can be generated. Network forensics tools generate a large amount of data, often at a high velocity. As you might assume, this can be difficult to manage, as it requires strong organizational skills and an understanding of how to interpret the data, per our previous point.

This can be remedied by having procedures in place for storing, analyzing, and archiving the collected network data accurately in order to keep up with the volume. And with proper management practices in place, companies can easily monitor their networks for suspicious activity and effectively utilize their network forensics tools with ease.

Secure Your Network with NetWitness

NetWitness network security monitoring provides comprehensive detection and analytics against the ever-changing threat of cyberattacks. As this blog has shown, our NetWitness network forensic tools can help:

  • Alleviate alert fatigue
  • Simplify threat detection and investigation
  • Speed network threat detection and response times
  • Make it easier to manage and interpret all of the data generated by your networks
  • And more!

So, have you been searching for the right network forensic tools to help protect your business? Then look no further than NetWitness! With NetWitness, you can rest assured that your network is secure and any suspicious activity is quickly identified and responded to before it becomes a more significant issue.

What are you waiting for? Request your demo today, and let us help you protect your sensitive data from unauthorized access! Don’t leave your operation vulnerable—get NetWitness now!