A sniffer (also known as a packet or network analyzer, or for particular types of networks, an Ethernet sniffer or wireless sniffer) is computer software or computer hardware that can intercept and log traffic passing over a digital network or part of a network. As data streams flow across the network the sniffer captures each packet and eventually decodes and analyzes its content according to the appropriate Request for Comments (RFC) or other specifications.
The versatility of packet sniffers means they can be used to:
- Analyze network problems.
- Detect network intrusion attempts.
- Gain information for affecting a network intrusion.
- Monitor network usage.
- Gather and report network statistics.
- Filter suspect content from network traffic.
- Spy on other network users and collect sensitive information such as passwords.
- Reverse engineer proprietary protocols used over the network.
- Debug client/server communications.
- Debug network protocol implementations.
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