Explore some top Network Protocol Analyzer Tools and select the best Protocol Analyzer to evaluate the network performance:
In this tutorial, we will explore the protocol analyzer and its various uses of it. Also, we will find out some of the major tools deployed in the industry to capture and analyze the network trends and other parameters by the different protocol analyzers tools.
A protocol analyzer is commonly known as a network analyzer because it can be inserted into the network to monitor and capture live activities and to safeguard the network and its entities against malicious attacks.
Thus, it can perform this by inserting the tool into the network uplink, and at the same instance time, the tool can perform the activity for multiple devices and network channels.
The Placement of the network analyzer into the communication channel or just into the network primarily depends upon the business requirements of the network and owners.
For example, the Wire shark tool can be inserted into the network channel, such as it can be part of the firewall to detect and report spam. On the other hand, it can also run as a web-interface-based tool to monitor, capture, and troubleshoot the network elements.
What You Will Learn:
- What is a Protocol Analyzer
- List of Top Network Protocol Analyzer Tools
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Protocol Analyzer
A protocol analyzer is a combination of hardware and software systems in which the hardware part is responsible for capturing and analyzing the data of the network or the communication channel and the software part is responsible to display that captured output in a form that can be readable by the end-user.
The protocol analyzer gives an insight view of various network protocols like USB, I2C, CAN, etc. through which the data travels via the communication link.
Thus, the protocol analyzer helps the engineers to debug the errors, monitor the product performance, traffic of the data link in the embedded systems throughout the life span of the development of the software or hardware product.
Use of Protocol Analyzer or Network Analyzer
- One of the major uses is to evaluate the network performance and provide protection to the network against mischievous activity within an organization. This is done by collecting the data packets and recording them which are traveling on the network.
- It can be used for a particular device or many devices simultaneously on the same network.
- It locates the parts of the network which are causing congestion in the network traffic flow.
- It identifies the abnormal packet characteristics in the network and over the Internet.
- Itself configures the alarm and alerts pop-ups for the threats.
- Create GUI friendly end-user web portal for downloading and extracting the outcomes of the analysis.
- Continuous monitor and locate the real-time network malware attacks.
- It debugs the network protocol’s various implementations.
- The active network devices that protocol analyzer tests are oscillators, transceivers, tuners, receivers, modulators, etc.
- The passive network devices that protocol analyzer tests are routers, bridges, isolators, resonators, duplexers, filters, splitters, adapters, RLC’s, etc.
Types of Protocol Analyzers
- We have different kinds of protocol analyzers. One is an unfiltered packet sniffer. It can encapsulate all raw packets flowing into the network and the Internet and copy the outcome into the local drive on the host computer for later analysis. The wired networks generally practice it and they keep the results secure for later analysis.
- Another one is a filtered, packet sniffer. It is designed in such a way that it will capture only a few data packets flowing in the network for which it is intended. In this way, the protocol analyzer will smartly collect the packets of its users only and can perform the analysis easily.
- The wireless networks deploy the filtered kind of packet sniffers into their network so that can get the outputs over a wider range of interfaces at the same instance of time.
- Even though the network analyzers are a combination of both the software and hardware part, we can categorize them as the hardware protocol analyzer and software protocol analyzer.
- The first one, encapsulating and analyzing the packets at different interfaces of the network thus commonly known as protocol analyzers. They are deployed to debug the hardware and complicated interfaces of the network.
- Later, one uses only the software to capture the data packets and work on the software level only. Mostly used for the wireless network over LAN and WAN connections to analyze the different patterns. Thus, commonly known as network analyzers.
Advantages of Using Protocol Analyzers
- It helps in minimizing the debugging time. We can capture the complex data packets easily and can analyze them with minimal delay. Overall, improve the network performance and cut down the debug time to more than half.
- Deploying protocol analyzers in the network has completely ruled out the manual network error capture and analysis procedure. This minimal the human error possibilities and delay factor in capturing the data packets and processing.
- It offers live capturing and can work simultaneously on many networks with a large number of network elements. The automation process has added more value to the process of encountering and eliminating the malicious threat in the network.
- It can perform the operations for a wider range of interfaces and some complex network protocols, also like PCIe.
- By using a packet sniffer, we can track which sites the end-user is exploring more over the Internet. Along with this, we can monitor the kind of downloaded files by the end-user. This feature helps the organizations to keep a record of employees’ browsing history and upgrade their security features accordingly.
Enlisted below are risk factors:
- Sometimes in corporate networks, due to the mistake of the employee, the user downloaded spam e-mails into their inbox, which gives the unauthorized packet sniffer access to the corporate network. Thus the hackers can use the confidential data for personal benefit and damage the network.
- Also, the personal data of the employee of any organization is get compromised as the system administrator will check out and monitor all the incoming traffic and browsing patterns of the user.
List of Top Network Protocol Analyzer Tools
Here is the list of popular Protocol Analyzers:
- SolarWinds Deep Packet Inspection and Analysis tool
- Wireshark Protocol Analyzer
- Manage Engine Net flow Analyzer
- PRTG Network Monitor
- HTTP Debugger
#1) SolarWinds Deep Packet Inspection and Analysis tool
The best thing which makes this tool different from others is that it offers one unique platform modular structure as per Net flow analyzer to monitor and analyze the network performances, manage the configuration, and user traffic device management altogether integrated at one interface.
- It offers troubleshooting of the advanced level network equipment through one platform.
- Configure DPI alerts and receive automated alerts when DPI tools notice a malicious change or drop in packet response time.
- It improves the quality of experience with the help of deep packet analysis tools designed to precisely assess the end-user experience.
- It is equipped with the feature of specific bandwidth utilization monitoring.
- In collaboration with Cisco, NBAR2 can directly give visibility to the HTTP and HTTPS traffic ports without the need for any other supporting device.
- The report generation on a weekly, daily, monthly, and yearly basis for a product review is very easy and accessible, as it provides the web interface to the user for comfortable understanding.
- In today’s world of mobile networking, when everything is done through mobile phones, it facilitates the WLC network traffic analysis, which helps in monitoring wireless devices as well.
#2) Wireshark Protocol Analyzer
It is one of the widely used and preferred network protocol analyzer tools. It is widely used by government agencies, educational institutions, commercial and various non-profitable organizations.
- Great investigation of a ton of protocols and provision of adding more and investigating at any point of time.
- On-line capture and offline analysis of the events.
- It supports multiple platforms, such as macOS, Linux, Microsoft, Solaris, NetBSD, FreeBSD, etc.
- It is equipped with the most potential display filters in the industry.
- It can also read Live data from PPP/HDLC, ATM, Ethernet, USB, Frame Relay, FDDI, IEEE 802.11, and many more (depending on the platform).
- It also provides Decryption support for security layer protocols like WPA/WPA2, IPSec, SNMPv3, SSL/TLS, WEP, ISAKMP, and Kerberos.
- Affluent in VoIP analysis.
- We can get the output of the data in any of the desired formats, like plain text, CSV, PostScript, or XML.
- Captured output data can be browsed via TTY-mode, TShark utility, or GUI.
- Read/write and capture many file formats: Pcap NG, Catapult DCT2000, Cisco Secure IDS iplog, tcpdump (libpcap), Microsoft Network Monitor, NetXray, Sniffer Pro, Network General Sniffer (compressed and uncompressed), Cisco Secure IDS iplog, NetScreen snoop, Shomiti/Finisar Surveyor, RADCOM WAN/LAN Analyzer, Network Instruments Observer, Tektronix K12xx, WildPacketsEtherPeek/TokenPeek/AiroPeek, Visual Networks Visual UpTime, and various others.
Website URL: Wireshark Protocol Analyzer
#3) Manage Engine Net flow Analyzer
It is a complete traffic analysis tool, and it deploys flow technologies to provision on-time visibility into the network bandwidth recital. It mainly measures the bandwidth utilization patterns and flows.
By Net flow analyzer, one will get complete clarity of application performance, devices, interfaces, IPs, wireless network, WAN links, SSIDs, network traffic, and access points, and monitor bandwidth usage. NetFlow Analyzer also assists various Cisco technologies.
Like AVC, NBAR IP SLA, and CQB.
- Get on-time insight into your network bandwidth with sixty seconds granularity reports.
- Recognition and classification of non-standard applications by hogging your network bandwidth.
- Make informed conclusions about your bandwidth development using capacity planning reports.
- Identification of context-sensitive anomalies and zero-day intrusions.
- It can drill down into interface extent details to find traffic patterns and device performance.
- By leveraging Cisco NBAR to provide you with profundity clarity into layer 7 traffic and recognize applications that use dynamic port numbers or hide behind well-known ports.
- Provisions analyzing and computation of various applications by deploying IP SLA monitors.
- It can track network anomalies that outclass your network firewall.
- It creates on-demand billing for accounting and departmental chargebacks.
Price: Trial version free for one month
Website URL: Manage Engine Net flow Analyzer
#4) PRTG Network Monitor
This helps to evaluate the traffic flow based on IP address, type of communication channel, and protocol to recognize the top orator in your network. It primarily focuses on facilitating the identification and solution of problems of the IT industry.
It observes all network devices and applications and presents a lucid overview. It is equipped with over 200 sensors and one can monitor all the network elements accordingly.
- It is equipped with the notification alert feature which notifies the user each time the system detects any error, threat, or irregular patterns in the traffic in the network. This is known as flexible alerting. It is having built-in notification software which informs the user about the ongoing trends like e-mails, push messages, alarms, audio files, etc.
- It offers several user interface modules to the consumers. It is equipped with SSL secured user interfaces and supports both android and IOS based applications.
- It provides real-time monitoring and live monitoring and capturing of the events of the network. It is integrated with over 250 different kinds of map articles with traffic trends and charts and also offers the customization of the maps and articles as per the business needs.
- It is having remote probes with which it offers distributed monitoring. Through this, we can monitor the several networks which are physically present at various remote locations within the organization centrally from one location only. Overall amplifies the QoS of the network.
- The users can extract the outcome of the daily, weekly, and monthly analysis in form of reports in different formats like PDF, XML, CSV, and HTML. It further helps us to generate further outcomes which are useful for the overall performance analysis.
Price: PRTG 500- $1750
Website URL: PRTG Network Monitor
Omnipeek is a pumped-up network protocol analyzer that has the potential to decode hundreds of protocols for speedy network troubleshooting and analysis, whenever any incidence of network error occurs. It gives a complete solution and insights about your network velocity, application execution, and security.
- It provided customized workflows across several domains of networks to enable the best visualization of the application performance in real-time.
- It offers WiFi network troubleshooting as equipped with a WiFi adaptor, which is a USB-connected WLAN device designed for wireless packet capture. It supports capturing up to 900Mbps wireless traffic and can bear the various frequencies channel operations like 20MHz, 60MHz, etc.
- In integration with Live Capture, Omnipeek offers remote end network monitoring and troubleshooting for application-level problems at sites, NOC centers, and WAN links.
- This can monitor and troubleshoot video and voice over IP traffic simultaneously with high-level multi-media summary statistics, comprehensive signaling, call playback, and media analysis.
- Effortlessly troubleshoot end-user devices remotely and securely with encrypted files, circumventing the need to travel to a user’s location.
- Initiates automated alerts based on built-in understanding when network policies are defied.
- Lightning-fast envisions and interlinkage with packet data, metadata, flows, and files.
- It has extensive monitoring and perceptibility to obtain unprecedented visibility in networks and applications.
Website URL: Omnipeek
#6) HTTP Debugger
It is a network protocol analyzer and sniffer tool for Windows, which captures entire network traffic and store it on the drive for analysis. In addition, it can also decode the different kinds of SSL traffic patterns.
It can decode hundreds of different complex protocols and can exactly filter out the protocol which is affecting the network and also can find out the faulty ports.
- It can intercept and notify the network utilization and can report the number of defective ports and frames in the network.
- It is designed in such a way that it gives the alert alarm notifications on pre-defined set values. If the set rules are violated in any case, then it will generate an alert for that incidence automatically.
- It can detect and report the error level at work stations level also in the network and report them accordingly.
- It can detect and report the HTTP headers, cookies, HTTP content, and other headers from the Internet with the web browser and can locate and decode the faulty packets.
- It works for both wired and wireless networks and can also run for various user-based desktop applications.
- It can locate and report the expired broadcast data packets in the network. Also can notify in advance about the expiry of the data frames flowing in the network. This can minimize network overload in the network.
Website URL: HTTP Debugger
Frequently Asked Questions
Q #1) What are protocols?
Answer: In context with computer networking, it is a combination of rules for designing and developing data. It is the language that the computer understands. By use of these protocols, the various computers can communicate with each other without being connected physically.
Q #2) Is packet sniffer and protocol analyzer are same?
Answer: Yes, both are the same. A sniffer analyzes the data packets that stream between the network components within a network or over the Internet.
Q #3) How protocol analyzers will detect malicious attacks?
Answer: It generates different set pattern packets when they encounter viruses. Then generate the alert to the system and it will report the administrator through the mail or alert message regarding the virus activity.
Q #4) How do the hackers use sniffers?
Answer: They can use sniffers by inducing their packet into the network immorally and then can get access to confidential data such as passwords and network traffic trends.
In this tutorial, we went through the concept of protocol analyzers, which are also known as network analyzers or packet sniffers. We have studied the different types of protocol analyzers.
We have also described some advantages and risk factors involved in using the network analyzer with some of the popularly used tools to capture and monitor the network trends with the help of screenshots and features of them.