A network analyzer is a computer program or a type of computer hardware that listens for, intercepts, and logs traffic that passes over a digital network.
The information that is obtained by a network analyzer is typically used to determine if there are any erroneous or unusual packets so that efficient network data transmission is maintained.
Network Analyzer – What It Does
Simply put, a network analyzer or sniffer will capture any packets of data that goes through a computer network. You can liken network analyzing with information systems to telephone wiretapping.
When network analysis is used legitimately, the primary function of the software or device is to monitor the performance of a network and troubleshoot any problems that have come up with over the network.
Additionally, depending on whether or not the network is a switch or hub, the sniffer may be able to capture traffic on all or parts of the network using one device or software program.
Some administrators find that just analyzing data or traffic from one network or sub-net is not as advantageous as being able to get information from other networks. This can be accomplished using what is called a monitoring port.
The data that are obtained or captured is then decoded from its digital form into a format that is readable by humans.
The administrator is then able to read the information that is being passed between networks. With this information, the administrator can detect errors and decipher the cause of those errors so that he or she can fix it.
Some network analyzers can create traffic and by doing so will become what is called a reference device. These reference devices serve as a protocol testers.
A protocol tester generates protocol-correct traffic that is used for functional testing. The purpose of this false traffic creation is to purposely introduce errors to find out how well the sniffer can deal with actual error conditions.
Network analyzers are used for a variety of purposes, but chief among them is analyzing network problems.
However, network analyzers can also detect network misuse and intrusion attempts, debug server communications, monitor any data in motion and network usage, isolate any exploited systems, gather network statistics, filter any suspicious content from network traffic and serve as a primary data source for network monitoring.