Home Business The hows and whys of network monitoring tools

The hows and whys of network monitoring tools

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Entrepreneurship What exactly do we mean by ‘network visibility’ and how can network monitoring tools bring added value? Network visibility is a broad concept, but can be summarized as follows: ‘being aware of the various components and the data used within a (company) network’. Network visibility not only means insight into the different parts of your network, but also insight into the behavior and traffic generated by those different nodes. This insight allows us to manage networks more efficiently, more securely and more efficiently.

To obtain these insights, we use so-called network monitoring tools . These software, such as LogicMonitor, Solarwinds and Zabbix, offer in-depth insights. In addition to these specific software tools, the products of major network vendors such as Cisco and Palo Alto Networks also contain extensive logging functionalities for network visibility.

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How do network monitoring tools work?

These software packages collect data in different ways. The first – and currently the most used – is SNMP, or Simple Network Management Protocol . As the name suggests, this protocol allows us to monitor and manage our infrastructure in a simple way. Unfortunately, it remains with simply reading and writing data.

Monitoring can also be done via syslog – a somewhat older protocol – with which network devices send messages to each other. Just think of a timestamp and specific information about an event. Those messages are stored and analyzed on a syslog server, which in turn is linked to the network monitoring tool in question. Finally, certain platforms themselves bring forward network monitoring tools. Cisco Meraki, for example, is fully cloud-managed, so that you can consult all information, problems and reports about the network environment via the dashboard in the browser.

Time is money

Efficiency, performance, safety, … These are beautiful concepts. But what does that mean in practice? What added value do network monitoring tools bring? Saving time, of course! Everyone knows the saying ‘time is money’ and that is no different in a production environment. By using network monitoring tools correctly, engineers can quickly make an analysis based on the logged information. Often they can even prevent production downtime by proactively monitoring certain data points, such as network congestion and vital parameters of critical hardware. Prevention is of course better than cure! The investments in network monitoring are therefore quickly recouped.

How security automation tools save the life of the analyst

The large amount of big data makes it impossible for analysts to manually process every alert. Security automation tools come to the rescue. Big data provides interesting insights into user behavior. It helps to determine what is normal behavior for a specific user, but most importantly, what is abnormal and urgently needs to be investigated. 

One could conclude that big data is a godsend for analysts. Unfortunately, the large amount of data is one of the biggest challenges for an analyst. The spotit SOC registers almost 7 billion actions per month. That’s 2,679 per second! You immediately understand that it is impossible for analysts to process them manually. That would be at the expense of quality. How do we solve this? automation tools!

How does an automation tool work?

By using security automation tools, a large part of an analyst’s work is already done for him/her. As soon as a report comes in, these tools start analyzing and reviewing the event. They determine the risk and the corresponding priority. This makes it easy for an analyst to deal with the most important alerts first. You are probably wondering how such an automation tool can determine risk and priority. We work with scripts for this. The spot it engineers determine recognition points for the tools. Just think of file names, users, certain actions, … By recording these scripts and recognition points, such an automation tool can rank the priority list.

Unfortunately, formatting those scripts is not a one-time task. Due to the continuous innovations, new actions are always detected. It remains a crucial task for the spotit engineers to optimize the scripts and correctly add these new actions. In addition, our customers do not all work with the same tools. Each tool evaluates notifications differently. These are forwarded to a central platform at spotit, where the risk assessments of the tools are converted into a uniform risk assessment. Only then can a SOC analyst correctly estimate the priorities.