Network security is a critical function for any business today—and it started with network traffic visibility.
To protect against increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks, organisations must be able to detect and prevent malicious activity on their networks. However, this is only possible if an organisation has visibility across its entire IT environment—including the network.
After all, you can’t protect what you can’t see.
Network traffic visibility gives organisations the insight and oversight they need to identify threats before they cause serious damage or disruption. This article will discuss why visibility is so important and how it can help protect an organisation’s data and infrastructure.
What is Network Traffic Visibility
Network traffic visibility is the ability to monitor, analyse, and act on network traffic in real time. By providing a detailed picture of incoming and outgoing traffic, a network monitoring tool can help network and security teams identify threats quickly and give administrators the insights they need to manage networks more efficiently.
Network visibility also helps administrators detect suspicious patterns of behaviour that could indicate malicious actors attempting to gain access or disrupt services. With deep packet inspection, organisations can view the header, payload, and other metadata associated with every data packet, enabling malicious activity to be identified and blocked before serious harm is done.
Organisations need a network monitoring tool that provides various capabilities to support prompt threat detection and mitigation. These include:
- Capturing data from multiple sources, including traffic telemetry protocols such as NetFlow, IPFIX, and sFlow.
- Integration with all common network hardware, e.g., switches, routers, etc.
- Enough storage for current and historical data—often running to terabytes and even petabytes.
- Comprehensive reporting and querying capabilities.
- Automation and custom rule settings to support efficient threat detection and mitigation.
5 Cybersecurity Use Cases for Network Traffic Visibility
1) Faster threat detection
Network visibility enables organisations to swiftly detect and prevent malicious activity. For example, real-time analysis of network activity can enable security teams to detect and prevent unauthorised data exfiltration—potentially saving the organisation from a costly data breach.
Similarly, threats targeting smart technologies such Internet of Things (IoT), Operational Technology (OT), and medical devices can often only be detected by analysing network traffic. These devices often run on outdated or uncommon operating systems and can’t be protected using common cybersecurity practices such as installing endpoint security agents on each device.
To spot malicious activity, organisations can use a network monitoring tool to detect anomalous or suspicious network traffic flowing to or from these devices.
2) Shedding light on blind spots
Modern business networks are growing larger and more complicated by the year. The more complex a network is, the harder it becomes to maintain full visibility. Digital transformation initiatives, hybrid cloud infrastructure, and increasingly remote workforces have made network monitoring a tougher task than ever before—and this creates risk.
A strong network traffic visibility program—powered by a powerful network monitoring tool—addresses this problem, shedding light on blind spots and helping network and security teams uncover anomalous or suspicious activity no matter where it occurs.
3) Compliance with cybersecurity frameworks
Industry frameworks such as the National Cyber Security Centre CAF Guidance highlight network monitoring and visibility as essential components of any cybersecurity strategy. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) offers similar recommendations in its report, Security and Privacy Controls for Information Systems and Organizations. NIST recommends the use of networking monitoring to detect:
- Cyber threats and indicators of attack
- Unauthorised local, network, and remote connections
Often, network activity—as opposed to device activity—provides the earliest warning signs a security team can investigate to uncover potentially malicious activity.
4) Optimising network performance
Complex business networks aren’t just hard to monitor—they’re also hard to optimise. As complexity rises, configuration issues can easily lead to a drop in performance, reducing operational efficiency and potentially harming customer experience.
Full network traffic visibility—along with powerful data analysis and reporting capabilities—supports network teams to uncover misconfigurations, bottlenecks, inactive hosts, and other network issues. By promptly addressing these problems as they arise, organisations can maintain higher network performance and avoid costly slowdowns and downtime.
5) DDoS Protection
Network traffic visibility helps security and network teams identify and mitigate DDoS attacks before they can disrupt business or customer activities.
For example, large and unexplained spikes in traffic to specific network IPs are a common sign that a volumetric DDoS attack may be underway. By quickly recognising these spikes, organisations can take preemptive action or respond swiftly to mitigate the attack and prevent it from disrupting critical operations.
Of course, not all DDoS attacks are so obvious. It’s important to invest in a network monitoring tool capable of ingesting the full spectrum of network data and which supports custom-written detection and mitigation rules designed to protect against more sophisticated attacks.
For complex DDoS threats, administrators can view the header and payload of every packet of data travelling through their network and determine if there is any suspicious or malicious activity. This process is most commonly used in the aftermath of an attack, and insights obtained can inform new automated detection and mitigation rules to prevent similar attacks in the future.
Protect Your Organisation with FastNetMon
FastNetMon isn’t just a DDoS detection solution—it also provides real-time and historical network traffic visibility. Integrating seamlessly with all common network hardware, it gathers network activity data from various sources, including NetFlow, IPFIX, and sFlow traffic monitoring.
Combining state-of-the-art DDoS detection and mitigation with real-time network monitoring, FastNetMon supports security and network teams to uncover the most sophisticated cyber threats.
At FastNetMon, we believe speed and accuracy of detection are essential to combat the threat of DDoS attacks. As one of the fastest DDoS detection tools on the market, our solution can uncover even complex multi-vector attacks in seconds and apply the appropriate mitigation strategies.
To protect against the most advanced attacks, FastNetMon can be configured to automatically switch between mitigations throughout an attack to match changes in attack volume and vectors.
Integrating seamlessly with all your network hardware, mitigation controls, and analytics, FastNetMon adapts to your network—you can even write custom detections and deploy them instantly across your network.
Want to keep your network safe? Try FastNetMon FREE for one month.