The Ultimate Guide to Network Security

Ultimate Guide to Network Security

Security is a constant risk in every network across the world. There are a thousand and one things to worry about, all the way from your infrastructure health right down to malicious attacks. Managing this landscape manually is a fool’s errand as it is next to impossible to keep track of the hundreds of changes occuring. As a result, it is important to have the right tools in order to maintain your uptime over the long term.

Administrators working on monitoring large networks are constantly delving in and out of different tools to get the most out of their technical infrastructure. In this article, we look at some of the network security tools that you should be using in your enterprise. This will include tools such as:

  • Packet sniffers
  • Vulnerability scanners
  • Log analyzers
  • Network monitors
  • Bandwidth monitors
  • FTPS and SFTP servers

Here is our list of the best Network Security Tools:

  1. SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (FREE TRIAL)
  2. tcpdump
  3. Wireshark
  4. ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer
  5. SolarWinds Real-Time Bandwidth Monitor (Packet Sniffer) (FREE DOWNLOAD)
  6. Aircrack (WEP and WPA Cracker)
  7. FileZilla FTP (FTPS AND SFTP Server)
  8. Tenable Network Security Nessus (Vulnerability Scanner)
  9. Nmap (Packet Sniffer)
  10. WhatsUp Gold

1. SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (FREE TRIAL)

Network Performance Monitor

Managing your network effectively depends largely on whether or not you’re inspecting your traffic. A deep packet inspection tool can help to look for problems with your connection and to optimize your network performance. SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor combines network monitoring and automated alerts into one comprehensive platform.

The main bulk of this platform has been designed to monitor the performance of your network infrastructure by infrastructure health and utilization. It can also tell you when services go down via a color-coded “traffic light” system. The traffic light system allows you to see from a glance when a service is functional, failing, or inbetween. Your real-time network usage data is manipulated into a variety of graphs and charts to enable you to take a microscope to your network connectivity.

SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor has clearly been designed with network troubleshooting in mind. You can customize your own alerts based on specific trigger conditions. This allows you to complete other administrative tasks without leaving your system open to any kind of service disruption. You can also dictate the time of day that alerts are active so that you don’t get receive notifications in the middle of the night.

Whether you’re experienced with packet analysis or new to the concept, Network Performance Monitor gives you everything you need to inspect your network in detail. SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor starts from a price of $2,895 (£2,245). There is also a 30-day free trial available from the SolarWinds website.

SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor Download 30 day FREE trial at Solarwinds.com

2. tcpdump

tcpdump interface screenshot

Tcpdump is one of the most famous packet analyzers that is used by many administrators for monitoring TCP/IP traffic on large networks. Tcpdump’s bread and butter is the command line. Everything in tcpdump is done via the command line. The name tcpdump comes from the native command of the same name that creates dumps of your network traffic so that you can troubleshoot for port connectivity.

One of tcpdump’s biggest assets is its configurability. There are tons of different commands that you can run to customize your experience with the program. For example, you can configure the size and number of packets you want to capture as well as apply filters when searching. This makes the program versatile enough to be deployed in most dynamic enterprise environments.

However, one of the drawbacks of using tcpdump as a packet sniffer is its use of the command line interface. Users less experienced with command line interfaces are likely to derive more use out of a program that incorporates a GUI. That being said if you take the time to learn tcpdump’s commands then this program has a lot of potential. Tcpdump can be downloaded for free from this link here.

3. Wireshark

Wireshark screenshot

Wireshark is indisputably the most well-known network protocol analyzer on the market. This open source application has been used as the main network packet analysis tool by network administrators in small and large organizations. Wireshark allows you to capture live packets and display them in a variety of formats. You can view your real-time captured packets in graphs and charts.

Deep packet analysis can help to tell you a lot about how your network is transferring packet content on your network. In many ways, it acts as a quality of service monitoring and security tool. For example, whenever Wireshark spots a packet transfer pattern that’s similar to a malicious attack it will send the user a notification. This enables the administrator to take action and address the threat before it can do any damage. The notification feature helps to make sure that you don’t miss a dangerous threat and run into unexpected downtime.

Wireshark also offers the ability to generate reports as well. Reports can be created and exported in CSV, XML or PostScript. These reports help you to pass information about your packet transfers to your team and develop further insights. Overall we recommend Wireshark if you’re in need of a deep packet inspection tool. With Wireshark you’ll be able to get come to grips with your real-time network usage and make sure that you don’t fall victim to any external threats to your network. Wireshark runs on Windows, Mac OS, Linux, NETBSD, and Solaris. Wireshark can be downloaded for free from this link here.

4. ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer

ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer

Your log data is one of your greatest assets when it comes to monitoring your network. Everyday you generate a mass of log data packed with insights into your network performance and potential threats. Incorporating a tool like ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer can help you martial this data to scrutinise your log data for indications of poor performance or external threats.

ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer is a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) product. This means that it combs through your log data for information and sends it to a centralized dashboard. You can even run searches to locate key logs and respond to pressing network threats. The search bar cuts out the need to go trawling through endless navigation trees.

SIEM solutions like EventLog Analyzer are particularly useful when it comes to regulatory compliance. Depending on the industry you’re operating within, you’re bound to have regulations in one form or another. ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer comes prebuilt with reports designed to comply with HIPAA, GLBA, PCI, DSS, SOX, FISMA, and ISO 27001 regulations. By using a SIEM tool like EventLog Analyzer you can be sure that you don’t leave yourself open to any fines for noncompliance.

There are a number of versions of ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer available. The Premium version allows you to monitor up to 1,000 log sources but you have to request a quote in order to see the price. There is also a free version that allows you to monitor up to five log sources without a license. All versions are available for Windows and Linux. EventLog Analyzer can be downloaded for free from this link here.

5. SolarWinds Real-Time Bandwidth Monitor (Packet Sniffer) (FREE DOWNLOAD)

SolarWinds Realtime bandwidth monitor

Almost any organization that is serious about quality of service monitoring utilizes a bandwidth monitor of some form or another. SolarWinds Real-Time Bandwidth Monitor is one of the best free bandwidth monitors on the market. This platform allows you to view your bandwidth usage in real-time through the perspective of numerous graphs. You can use these to monitor multiple devices simultaneously.

Deep packet inspection tools are important because they analyze the internal components of individual packets. This helps to provide you with more information than a generic network monitoring tool. As far as packet sniffers go, SolarWinds platform is very simple to deploy and compatible with both NetFlow and sFlow data.

This platform has been designed to make it easy to spot when your connection is experiencing subpar performance. You can view the direct cause of any latency on your network. This is aided by the use of SolarWinds built-in visualization that shows you the response time of both your network and your applications. All of this information comes together to be everything you need to complete quality of experience monitoring.

Real-Time Bandwidth Monitor supports the monitoring of NetFlow, sFlow, and J-Flow data, and can record up to 60 minutes of data total. The user interface is very easy to use and you don’t have to flick through an extensive navigation tree in order to find what you want.

Overall SolarWinds Real-Time Bandwidth Monitor is a must for enterprises searching for a lightweight but powerful bandwidth monitoring solution. SolarWinds Real-Time Bandwidth Monitor can be downloaded for free.

SolarWinds Real-Time Bandwidth Monitor Download FREE Tool at Solarwinds.com

 

6. Aircrack (WEP and WPA Cracker)

aircrack-ng

Aircrack ng is a well known WEP and WPA Cracker but also provides a range of tools to manage WiFi security. Aircrack has the ability to conduct packet capture, check the capabilities of wifi cards and drivers and crack WEP and WPA. Aircrack ng itself is often used for password cracking.

Everything in Aircrack is operated via the command line. If you’re not experienced with working through the command line this can be a little putting off. However, there are plenty of online resources to help you out along the way. Commands like Airdecap-ng enable users to start decrypting wireless traffic after they’ve completed the cracking process.

If you’re looking for a packet analysis and WEP/WPA cracker all-in-one, Aircrack is a platform that you should definitely consider. Aircrack ng is available for Windows, Mac OS, Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, Open BSD and Solaris. However, this platform was mainly designed for Linux users. The best part about this product is that it is completely free. If you’re interested in using Aircrack ng then you can download it for free from this link here.

7. FileZilla FTP (FTPS AND SFTP Server)

FileZilla FTP

FileZilla is a very well-known FTP server. FileZilla supports FTPS (File Transfer Protocol Secure) and SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) which is a protocol that is used for secure file transfers. FTPS is a popular method of sending files in an enterprise network. The reason is that FTP (File Transfer Protocol) and TFTP (Trivial File Transfer Protocol) don’t have authentication and encryption in place. As such a tool like FileZilla FTPS allows you to transfer files securely.

The user interface is very easy to use. Even though it looks behind the times, it has more than enough features to keep up with modern day demands. It also has IPv6 support to add that touch of modernity. When using the platform it is also relatively simple to transfer files between your hard drive and an external FTP server.

If you need an FTPS or SFTP server, FileZilla FTP is a software product you should definitely consider. It is one of the more reliable FTPS/SFTP servers on the market at the moment. FileZilla is available on Windows, Mac OS, Linux and BSD. FileZilla can be downloaded for free from this link here.

8. Tenable Network Security Nessus (Vulnerability Scanner)

tenable nessus screenshot

Tenable Network Security Nessus is a potent network vulnerability scanner. With over 1,900,000 users around the world, this is one of the most popular vulnerability scanners available. This platform specializes in rapidly scanning large-scale networks for vulnerabilities. Many administrators use this product to detect malicious attacks, botnet, malware and other threats.

There is also the option to create customized reports. Once a report has been created you can organize it by vulnerability or host. This helps to make sure that you can access this information further down the line. You can also use the API to configure automated report downloads. Such features are great for automating your security monitoring.

Tenable Network Security Nessus Professional can be purchased for $2,876 (£2,145) per year with unlimited IP scans and assessments. This is more than enough to monitor cyber threats in a fast-paced enterprise environment. There is also a free trial of Tenable Network Security available from this link here.

9. Nmap (Packet Sniffer)

Nmap Screenshot

Nmap is another packet sniffer that just so happens to be one of the most popular free software products on this list. Like WireShark, Nmap is a tool that countless network administrators rely on every day. Nmap is used to run port scanning throughout an enterprise grade network to search for poor performance and vulnerabilities.

Nmap is based around the command line. Depending on your perspective, this is a blessing and a curse. If you’re familiar with command line technology then Nmap offers you a way to run scripts to monitor your network and find your way around firewalls and routers. If you’re not a fan of command line tools, then Nmap is unlikely to do anything for you unless you put in the time to learn how to use it.

There is a diverse user support community who can help you to do this, but it still requires more effort to adapt to than a tool like WireShark. You can also use Nmap to detect the operating system of devices throughout your network. The platform analyzes IP packets to see what network elements are running what operating systems.

This tool is suitable for larger enterprises on account of its scanning speed. It can scan thousands of devices and keep up with strenuous workloads. As such we recommend it to administrators working within organizations of all sizes. Nmap is available on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. This product can be downloaded from this link here.

10. WhatsUp Gold 

WhatsUp Gold Screenshot

Next up, we have WhatsUp Gold. WhatsUp Gold is a renowned network monitoring tool that allows you to run SNMP scans to monitor the performance of your network infrastructure. You can manage everything from physical infrastructure to virtualized environments and cloud systems. This makes WhatsUp Gold great for companies working with physical and virtual network monitoring needs.

As is expected from a top of the range network monitor, you can create custom dashboards and determine the information displayed when you launch. This includes graphs and pie charts that visualize your data. One particularly useful feature is the application performance monitor which allows you to monitor SQL Servers and Exchange apps.

WhatsUp Gold network monitoring software also has its own alerts system. You can configure WhatsUp Gold to notify you by email or SMS once an event happens. You can view all current alerts through the alert center. Alerts are extremely useful for responding to threats promptly.

The only limitation with WhatsUp Gold is that the support can be quite patchy. Overall though this remains a top notch network monitoring tool. WhatsUp Gold is available both on a subscription and on a licensed basis. There is the Premium Annual Subscription, Premium License, and Total Plus License. If you require network traffic analysis, application monitoring, and virtualization monitoring then you should opt for the Total Plus License. You’ll need to request a quote if you want to receive a price. That being said, there is a free 30 day trial available here.

Mix and Match!  

All of the tools on this list are essential for securing your network against external threats and poor performance. Packet sniffers, vulnerability scanners, log analyzers, network monitors and bandwidth monitors all have a place within a modern network administrators toolkit. If you’re serious about keeping your service up and running long-term, you should consider deploying these tools.

A tool like SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor will be able to comb through your network and identify poorly-performing equipment before it significantly affects your service. Trying to keep track of hundreds of network devices is impossible if you don’t have a central program with which to monitor them.

Coupling Network Performance Monitor with a tool like WireShark can also allow you to conduct deep packet inspection as well. Network Performance Monitor does include deep packet inspection but using WireShark alongside this platform can be a good way to make sure you’re fully covered in this respect.

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