What is a Sniffer, and How to Protect from a Network Sniffer Attack?
The transition from wired Internet connections to wireless ones has meant that mobility and the use of wireless networks have spread among users in recent years, also boosted by the growth in the use of mobile devices.
However, it must be taken into account that not only the stability of the connection itself should focus our attention or have enough data to view content, but also that the security of said networks when using the Internet should be one of our main concerns when using them. Therefore, in this article, we will talk about what a network sniffer is and, of course, what to do to avoid possible problems.
What is a sniffer?
Explained in a very simple way, it is a computer program or tool that captures the information transmitted in a network of devices; that is, it captures the exchanges of information that occur within a network to which several may be connected. Devices.
For example, use your computer to visit a page where you enter your username and password, documents, or information. The sniffer can see and know the information exchanged during browsing: what website you have visited, what information you have sent, etc. If the information is not transmitted through an HTTPS protocol between your computer and the web server, the information will be fully exposed. We will greatly increase the chances of being victims of cybercrime if it falls into the wrong hands.
It is important to know that this type of program, if used without criminal intent, can improve the security of our communications. However, they could turn against us when a person uses these tools in a harmful or malicious way, for example, if they connect to a network to spy on communications between other users on other computers.
Risks to which our privacy is exposed in the face of a malicious attack directed by a sniffer.
As we discussed earlier, a sniffer is a program that tracks the movements of a device within a network. If an attacker uses this tool to compromise our privacy, we will face a serious problem. Is the information that is stolen using this method really that valuable?
The answer is yes. The information stolen through a sniffer can be very valuable and different: credentials, personal and bank details, tastes, interests, hobbies, locations, devices used, programs, etc. And they affect third parties with whom we exchange information and us. We may become victims of different cyber attacks or cybercrimes since that information could be used against us to extort us or obtain an economic benefit from our coast.
How do we protect ourselves from a network sniffer attack?
Properly protecting our connections and connecting only to secure networks becomes essential. Therefore, two relevant elements must be taken into account:
Adequately protect the home Wi-Fi network
Our first shield against a sniffer attack will be to keep our home Wi-Fi network secure. Having a strong password to access it and having it always updated and with a good configuration are some of the recommendations to take into account.
Make use of a virtual private network (VPN)
If for some reason, we need to connect to a network that is of public origin, that is, we do not have control over it, we could use a VPN to encrypt the connection and prevent a possible spy tool from intercepting our communications.
There are several options that we have in this regard. Mobile devices and desktop computers encrypt the content we send to the network, thus preventing a sniffer from reading the information, even if he manages to steal it, by transmitting everything encrypted.
In short, a sniffer is a software capable of monitoring information. For this reason, we have to protect our networks and information to avoid problems that put our privacy at risk since cybercriminals rely on this type of tool to get hold of it.