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Packet Sniffing at a Glance

In this article, we'll quickly discuss hackers and the misuse of packet sniffing to spy on network traffic.

· Web Dev Zone

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There are many positives to computer technology. Innovations like the modern Internet, computer networks, smartphones, and WiFi have contributed to the world becoming a digital world. Today, people can do almost any desired task online such as paying bills, shopping, communicating with friends, or viewing the news.

While millions of people turn to the Internet to complete daily tasks, they use their devices as their Internet connection source. Many of these people rarely think about the negative side of computer technology. However, there is a dark side to computer technology that includes hackers who break into computer systems and individual devices.


Hackers try to steal personal information, banking information, credit card information, and a variety of other data types. These actions can lead to many devastating consequences for victims such as identity theft, empty bank accounts, damaged credit, and serious legal problems.

The perception of people who steal online is vastly different than the perception of people who steal offline. People who steal offline are usually thought of as hardened tough criminals, but online "hackers" are far from this perception. In many instances, hackers appear to be the person next door. Hackers tend to be very smart people, but they typically have an ax to grind because they feel they have been done wrong.

Hackers are commonly former IT professionals or have expertise on the level of highly trained IT professionals. They know just as much or even more than the IT professionals who try to protect computer systems from hackers. Many hackers have a large arsenal of hardware and software at their disposal to attack and break into any desired technology device. However, one popular way that hackers attempt to cause havoc is by using packet sniffing.

Packet Sniffing

In general, packet sniffing is an activity used primarily by IT professionals to analyze activity on networks using either a hardware based or software based packet sniffer. Many IT professionals use packet sniffers to diagnose network related problems. During the packet sniffing process, IT professionals can see all information going across a network. They can view network activity and analyze what is occurring on a network to diagnose potential problems or problems on a network.

Unlike IT professionals who use packet sniffing for its intended purpose, hackers also conduct packet sniffing by using packet sniffers, but typically hackers are not trying to diagnose network activity to help solve problems. Hackers are attempting to cause problems.

What Hackers Can Accomplish With Packet Sniffing and Packet Discovery

Hackers conduct packing sniffing to spy on network traffic. By using packet sniffers, hackers are able to accomplish packet discovery to monitor packets going across computer networks. While spying, hackers can:

  1. View unencrypted data in the packets being sent between two parties on a network.

  2. Attempt to capture authentication tokens.

  3. Steal passwords.

  4. Capture packets for later replay.

  5. Capture packets for packet injection attacks.

  6. Variety of other hacking activities.

Method to Prevent Packet Sniffing Success

Depending on the network security involved, hackers can perform their packet sniffing undetected. All information going across a network is at risk to hackers conducting packet sniffing. One of the best methods for protecting data on computer networks is for the data to be encrypted. Even though hackers can still see the data, the data is not readable to the hackers.

As with all technological tools, there are various packet sniffers available. The various packet sniffers can accomplish different tasks or perform similar tasks using different methods. In addition, the expertise level of the user has a lot to do with what can be accomplished using a packet sniffer.

Technology provides many advantages to computer users, but there are disadvantages. Computer users must be aware of the potential dangers and take steps to prevent attempts from hackers to attack their computer systems or various devices.

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