Internet Protocol (IP) sniffing refers to analyzing the traffic on a network. This can be limited to analyzing the traffic coming from a single computer on the network or to every computer on the network. IP sniffing intercepts packets of information on the network. This method can be used for a variety of different things.
Other uses for these programs involve filtering out certain types of content and connections from the network. This can be used to increase the security of a network or to limit users' access to certain types of content. Network administrators may use these programs to block connections to instant messaging services or specific websites.
IP sniffing can also be used by malicious users to steal information from other users. By intercepting network traffic, a malicious user can analyze the packets of information sent to websites. This can result in a user's account security being compromised.
The potential misuse of IP sniffing requires that users be cautious when using an insecure network. While many websites provide encrypted connections for user logins, some do not and others use antiquated encryption that can be cracked. This may result in a user's information being stolen by a malicious user.
In order to minimize the potential for malicious users to steal information, users should only log into websites on networks that are known to be secure. For 802.11 Wi-Fi users, networks that feature Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) or WPA2 encryption are generally thought to be secure. This type of encryption prevents the majority of the threat that comes from IP sniffing.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are used by remote users to ensure that their connection to a network is secure. The use of this type of software can further reduce the potential danger of malicious users using IP sniffing programs. This type of software works by encrypting all of the information that is sent between the client computer and the server. This helps to ensure that no information passed through the connection can be used by a malicious user.