IT Gains Low-Cost Tools for Managing IP Packets

By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2002-12-02

Fortunately, a combination of low-cost tools and simple best practices can be used to help administrators figure out what applications, such as Luciras MobileSecure, are transmitting to the Internet.

Low-cost consumer security products and free protocol analyzers can show and control the data a computer shares over the Internet. These products examine IP packets, to collect address information, and the payload, to see whats being sent.

For individual users, products such as Symantec Corp.s $69 Norton Internet Security 2003 can be used to ensure permission is requested before sensitive information such as an e-mail address, a Social Security number or a credit card number is sent over the Internet.

For both individual users and corporate IT managers, understanding what normal network traffic looks like is the most effective tool in spotting abnormal traffic.

A slew of commercial protocol analyzers are available for monitoring traffic, including the granddaddy of them all, Network Associates Inc.s Sniffer. WildPackets Inc. and Network Instruments LLC also make analyzers that are affordable, even for a small business. A really affordable option for determining how much traffic a computer is generating and exactly where the traffic is going is Ethereal, an open-source protocol analyzer for Unix, Linux and Windows. (More information is available at

In addition to the use of a protocol analyzer, eWeek Labs recommends uninstalling unused programs to reduce the chance of surreptitious use of the computer. In addition, be suspicious if the network link light indicates high traffic for no apparent reason.

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