Packet Sniffing with Wireshark
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Wireshark is akin to some superstar or diva in the land of networking and security. Simply put, it is the most popular, award-winning network protocol analyzer. It not only sniffs packets, it does much more. In this article we will first explain what packet sniffing is, how it works, and why you should sniff. After that, we will lead you on your first sniffing session done professionally with Wireshark!
Some of you might already be familiar with other packet sniffers, such as the classic Ethereal or its “lightweight” EtherDetect sibling, right? Don’t get surprised when you find out that Wireshark was renamed back in 2006 from Ethereal (trademarking issues: the company registered the name, but the developer left the company). So it’s the good old trusty packet sniffer you alerady know!
The beauty of Wireshark comes mostly from its impressive mixture of power, features and functionalities -- all this while maintaining its simplicity and user-friendliness. It also comes with a straightforward, easy-to-use GUI. However, the complexity of the capabilities and the number of rich features that lie behind that graphical interface are mind-blowing nonetheless.
All right, enough introduction; on the next page we will get into theory and explain what packet sniffing is. We will then explore the range of uses where sniffing is an enormous advantage. To fully understand the way a packet sniffer works, we also need to learn the basics of packet structures. Once we finish with this material, we can move on to downloading and installing Wireshark and trying it out.
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