Network traffic analysis is the study of packets that are passing through a network. This strategy was originally intended to examine all traffic sources and throughput volumes for the purpose of capacity analysis.

What is network traffic analysis?

Network traffic analysis can be used to plan capacity and security monitoring. Analyzing the headers of all circulating data packets can provide a running total traffic per endpoint or protocol. You can spot unexpected rises in traffic per source or per protocol by looking at traffic patterns stored in the past.

What to look for in a network traffic analysis tool

You will also find a packet scanner that copies traffic to files. This information must then be processed in order to gain valuable insights into traffic patterns. Complex systems can simultaneously sample traffic from multiple points on the network. They can consolidate the source material to uncover unusual user behavior.

While the network provides live source data, network traffic analytics rarely work in real time. Traffic analyzers wait until packet headers have been captured and saved before they can use them to determine the source of information. Therefore, NTAs operate at the Application Layer rather than the Network Layer.

The NTA tool provides a better overview of network activity by analyzing the Application Layer. The Network Layer information is not sufficient to detect traffic patterns. It also misses malicious traffic, which is deliberately spread over multiple packets or combined actions from different sources.

Although network traffic analysis provides rapid feedback, it is not ” almost live” at its best. Security applications cannot detect threats until they have streams and data to work with. With capacity planning and analysis, there is less urgency. The accuracy of projections is important more than the immediacy.

Also read: Top 10 Open Source Network Security Tools for Web Apps

Our methodology for selecting NTA tools for this list

We reviewed the market and evaluated the available options for network traffic analysis software based on these criteria:

  • A monitor capable of using traffic flow protocols such as NetFlow and J-Flow to communicate with switches or routers
  • Options for Packet Capture or Packet Sampling
  • Use to analyze traffic statistics using a protocol analyzer
  • Ability to determine traffic volumes per link or end-to-end along a path
  • Live traffic data in graphical format
  • Get a free trial to get a free assessment or a totally free tool
  • Useful tools for free or to get value for your money

Best Network Traffic Analysis Tools

The reason you want to analyze your network will determine which NTA utility is most appealing.

1. SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer

The SunWinds NetFlow traffic analyzer can be used as a standalone or combined monitor with the Network Bandwidth Analyzer Pack. This pack also includes the Performance Monitor. To analyze packets and measure throughput, the NetFlow Traffic Analyzer makes use of packet analysis utilities that are built into network equipment. These systems include Cisco NetFlow and J-Flow from Juniper Networks as well as Huawei’s NetStream and the sFlow/IPFIX systems. This tool can also interpret NBAR2 data received from Cisco devices.

Key Features:

  • Uses NetFlow and J-Flow. sFlow, sFlow and NetStream.
  • Traffic classification using NBAR2
  • Analysis of QoS
  • Excellent for VoIP
  • Resolves bottlenecks

This data can be viewed as collected data live on the screen. The real analysis takes place only on the stored data. This utility can identify VLANs such as simultaneous voice and traffic on the network. Live data features include thresholds for throughput that will notify you when traffic exceeds the network’s limit.

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Data analysis screens will display top traffic-generating apps. It can also segment data by source or protocol/port. The time-based charts show the traffic volume peak and trough over hours, days, or months. This will allow you to identify peak demand times so you can shift batch jobs or downloads to less critical hours.

The Network Performance Monitor as well as the NetFlow Traffic Analyzer cover LANs, wireless networks, and connections to Cloud services. These tools can be installed on Windows Server. They are both written on the same platform so that they can interoperate. The utility includes traffic shaping tools that allow you to implement and manage queue-based traffic shaping methods such as Class-based quality of service.

Pros:

  • Track traffic from one point to another!
  • Shows congested devices
  • Big traffic generators identified
  • Provides protocol analysis
  • Assists in traffic shaping

Cons:

2. ManageEngine OpManager Plus

ManageEngine OpManager Plus provides all the monitoring capabilities you need to manage your IT infrastructure. This includes network device monitoring and traffic analysis utilities.

Key Features:

  • NBAR is used for protocol scoring
  • Uses NetFlow and J-Flow.
  • CBQoS
  • Wireless network monitoring

OpManager Plus begins its service life by scanning the network, creating a topology map, and device inventories. This will give you a complete overview of your network. Then you can test the traffic on each link and between nodes in the network. The inventory and topology map will automatically update when you modify the network’s layout by adding or removing equipment. The map displays the status of each device as well as the load on each link.

The traffic flow capture system of the monitor can communicate with network devices through NetFlow, IPFIX, J-Flow, NetStream, sFlow, and AppFlow. metrics on network traffic are displayed Live on the screen. The system captures packets and stores them in files.

You can set threshold alerts to warn you of resource exhaustion in the day-to-day traffic monitor system. These alerts can also be sent by SMS or email so that you are not required to monitor the screens.

You can use the analysis screens to find traffic sources by application, IP address, or interface. It implements NAR. Forecasting is an option that allows you to plan your capacity. Traffic shaping tools such as queueing and prioritization using Class-Based QoS are also included in the system. This will help you get more value from your network infrastructure.

OpManager Plus can monitor both wireless networks and standard LANs. If you have a WAN, OpManager Plus can monitor internet links between sites. It is also capable of integrating links to Cloud servers.

Pros:

  • Versions for Windows Server & Linux
  • Both wired and wireless networks covered
  • You can monitor WANs from anywhere on the internet
  • Traffic shaping measures available

Cons:

  • It will install on cloud platforms, but it isn’t a SaaS package.

3. Noction Flow Analyzer

Noction flow Analyzer provides a set of network analysis systems that can be used to monitor bandwidth, plan capacity, and evaluate BGP data. The network traffic monitor provides data that the analyzer uses. The Noction system stores the data as well as interprets it. This data is collected by routers and switches.

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Key Features:

  • Uses NetFlow and J-Flow. sFlow, sFlow, NetStream. and IPFIX.
  • Analyze Internet routes
  • Network traffic monitoring

To communicate with network devices, the data collector uses NetFlow, IPFIX, and sFlow systems. This is because equipment manufacturers have developed their own statistical querying language that is pre-loaded onto their devices. Others rely on industry standards like sFlow or IPFIX. Noction has added the ability to use all these systems to the Flow Analyzer to allow it to monitor multi-vendor websites.

The analyzer will display traffic information for a specified period. You can filter and sort this data to narrow down the traffic generated by each protocol. You can also identify which endpoints generate the most traffic and what volumes they generate.

A traffic analyzer allows you to forecast future bandwidth needs for the network and adjust the architecture accordingly.

You can set up various alerts in the Alerts section. Technicians can receive notifications via email or Slack. This means that IT Operations staff cannot assume the network is working well unless they are notified.

Pros:

  • Identifies internet routes and networks
  • Traffic flows tracked
  • Features for network capacity planning

Cons:

  • The software can be hosted by you, but you must subscribe to it.

Also read: 5 Tips to Protect your Network from Malware Attacks

4. Elastic Stack

Elastic Stack is a Dutch-based company Elasticsearch B.V., has been able to tap into a niche market. Many software buyers are uncomfortable with the all-inclusive packages that include monitoring and analysis tools and would rather choose the best-of-breed to perform each network analysis function. Elastic Stack can work together to capture packets and analyze them. However, each element can be deployed separately and combined with other tools from other providers.

Key Features:

  • Version free
  • Option to be hosted
  • Flexible and modular

This Elasticsearchproduct was the original product that the business was founded on. It still bears this name. This tool searches logs and stores packet stream data. The tool then draws statistics from these searches. This search engine can be used as an analytical tool.

Kibana serves as the front end for Elastic Stack. This is the mainstay of the stable, and it is highly recommended by other network analysis tools. Open-source network traffic analysis tools are available on the market. They were created by brilliant people who don’t want to have to present. These systems are very efficient and don’t require a dashboard. Instead, they tell users to use Kibana.

Kibana was designed to interface with many backend data-gathering systems such as OSSEC. However, it was written specifically to work with Elasticsearch. The tool offers very attractive data visualizations, and screens can be customized. Elasticsearch can integrate with Kibana to execute your queries. The results returned by the Kibana data interpretation system.

Logstash represents the lowest level of Elastic Stack. This log server can create storage files to store a variety of data. You can use the free Pcap tool for traffic analysis to feed into Logstash.

Pros:

  • A collection of useful tools to collect, analyze, and view data
  • Make your own application
  • Data can be interpreted into charts and graphs

Cons:

  • This is not a pre-written Traffic Analyzer
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5. Plixer Scrutinizer

Plixer Scrutinizer is a standalone traffic analyzer that is available as an appliance or virtual appliance. It can also be used as a cloud service. This tool’s main purpose is to detect security threats. Its full name is Scrutinizer Incident Respond System.

Key Features:

  • Uses NetFlow and J-Flow. sFlow, sFlow, NetStream. and IPFIX.
  • Options for deployment
  • Large volumes of traffic data are processed

Scrutinizer collects metrics and packets with NetFlow and IPFIX, NetStream, and J-Flow. The system can communicate with switches, routers, and firewalls as well as servers and wireless access points. Multiple points on the network simultaneously collect data. All passing data is displayed in live graphs, and it is also saved for security analysis. Multiple viewpoints are useful for traffic analysis and security, as they can help identify bottlenecks in the system.

All that data gathering generates large amounts of information, up to 10,000,000 flows per second. The Scrutinizer interpolation engine can handle this volume. The system can work with stored data but it works on a sliding window. It starts adding new data immediately after it arrives. It has a ” near-live” capability, which allows it to detect security breaches almost instantly. It doesn’t take long to discover that there is a problem. Incidences are displayed as warnings on the system performance monitoring screens.

Pros:

  • Offers available as an appliance, virtual appliance, or SaaS package
  • Analysis of security threats
  • Traffic management

Cons:

  • There are no other options than to integrate with IT asset-management systems

Scrutinizer’s subscription model includes three levels of service: Free, SSVR, and SCR. As you might expect, has data throughput limits volume limits, and fewer utilities that the paid editions.

Paid plans enable you to plan data collection and reporting. A 30-day free trial is available.

6. Open WIPS-NG

Open WIPS-NG is an intrusion detection system for wireless networks. This -free tool includes intrusion detection as well as automated responses. This tool is a sister product of Aircrack NG, a well-known hacker utility.

Key Features:

  • Wireless networks
  • Capture of packets
  • Use it free of charge

The traffic analyzer consists of three elements: which is a sensor and which is a data processor and which is an interface. It acts as a monitor and implementor of mitigation strategies when malicious activity is detected.

It is a wireless packet sniffer. The sensor collects packets and saves them to a file. This file serves as a source for the server software, which implements detection and looks for intrusion signs. In the interface, you can see the results of security checks.

The Remediation process can be performed automatically. When an intruder is spotted by the server program, it sends a command via the sensor to the wireless AP to remove that user from the network.

Pros:

  • Traffic capture allows for security monitoring
  • Automated responses are available
  • To identify patterns of malicious activity, aggregate data is used

Cons:

Conclusion

This report explains that there are two main reasons for network traffic analysis, network performance enhancement, and security checks. This guide was created to rank the best in each of these areas. You can leave a comment in the Comments section below if you have a favorite network traffic analysis tool that isn’t on the list. Share your experiences with the community.