Choosing a network monitoring tool.

Recently, we wrote about how network visibility can help organisations detect cyber threats, illuminate network blind spots, optimise network performance, and more.

Today, we’re taking a step back and asking a more fundamental question… How do you get visibility?

The answer is simple: use a powerful network monitoring tool that provides the functionality you need to monitor, manage, and protect your business network.

This article will explain why it’s important to choose the right monitoring tool and what to consider when choosing the best tool for your organisation.

Why is a Network Monitoring Tool Important?

A network monitoring tool enables organisations to monitor and analyse network traffic and take action to resolve issues and protect against cyber threats. Monitoring tools provide a detailed, real-time picture of incoming and outgoing traffic, enabling network teams to identify potential issues and ensure networks run efficiently.

Common issues that tools can help network teams address include network misconfigurations, bottlenecks, and inactive hosts. Monitoring tools are also crucial for detecting security threats such as DDoS attacks and the presence of malicious actors inside a network.

6 Things to Consider when Choosing a Network Monitoring Tool

1. Ease of implementation

Being able to get up and running quickly with a new network monitoring tool is a huge advantage.

Free tools, in particular, often require a significant investment of time, energy, and resources to implement and set up correctly. This is partly because each tool typically provides a small range of functionality, so network teams must simultaneously implement several tools to fulfil their full requirements.

Even within paid tools, there are significant variations in the level of effort and cost required for implementation. When evaluating tools, consider the time and cost of implementing each tool, including:

  • Provisioning servers and storage.
  • Deploying agents.
  • Creating databases.
  • Implementing backup procedures and infrastructure.
  • Implementation and maintenance of supporting tools (if needed).
  • Learning and managing the full network monitoring stack.

2. Features

When it comes to features, there are significant differences between tools. At one end of the scale, there are some relatively inexpensive—even free—offerings that complete basic network monitoring tasks. While these tools may be sufficient for very small organisations, they don’t provide the functionality needed to detect and address serious network issues and security threats.

At the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find fully functional solutions that provide granular insight into all network activity, along with strong integrations, remediation capabilities, and more. Serious network teams should look for a tool that provides:

  • Data capture from multiple sources, including NetFlow, IPFIX, sFlow traffic monitoring, Port mirror, and SPAN.
  • Integration with all common network hardware, e.g., switches, routers, etc.
  • 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.

3. Reporting

It’s one thing to observe network activity in real time. However, in practice, many network issues and security threats are uncovered in retrospect by analysing network traffic reports.

A network monitoring tool should include powerful reporting capabilities and dashboards that enable network administrators to understand and query network activity data. At a minimum, it should be easy for administrators to view:

  • Top host talkers in network.
  • Autonomous system dropdowns.
  • Bandwidth to specific local host, network or group of hosts.
  • Bandwidth to or from specific autonomous system numbers.

4. Scalability

Some business networks will always stay within certain confines. In these cases, scalability may not be a big concern. However, for organisations that aim to grow, it’s important to choose IT solutions and infrastructure that can scale as necessary.

For example, FastNetMon has been tested on networks up to 5 Tbits and 3 million unique flows per second for a single server. It can also be scaled linearly by adding any number of clustered servers.

5. Integration

While network observability is crucial, it’s not the only function of a network monitoring tool. A powerful tool must also enable network and security teams to take action to resolve issues and prevent threats. For this to be possible, the tool must integrate with a wide range of network devices, software tools, and internal and external services.

Some of the most important integrations include:

  • All network devices, including routers, and switches.
  • Cyberattack mitigation services such as BGP Blackhole and cloud DDoS scrubbing centres.
  • Observability and analytics tools such as Grafana.
  • Security monitoring and log management tools such as SIEMs.

6. DDoS Protection

Among the most important functions of a network monitoring tool is detecting anomalies that could indicate the early stages of a DDoS attack. Most DDoS attacks can be mitigated if they are detected early, enabling organisations to avoid major damage or disruption to sensitive systems or assets. 

Powerful monitoring tools combine real-time visibility of all network activity with rules-based attack detection, enabling network administrators to react quickly to attacks. With the addition of automation capabilities, many DDoS attacks can be detected and mitigated automatically using a DDoS mitigation strategy such as BGP Blackhole or FlowSpec.

Naturally, the faster you can detect and mitigate an attack, the less damage and disruption your organisation will experience.

Of course, not all attacks can be detected automatically. This is why it’s important to choose a monitoring tool that provides granular activity data—it enables security teams to be more proactive in identifying and responding to suspicious or anomalous network activity.

Protect Your Organisation with FastNetMon

FastNetMon isn’t just a network monitoring tool—it’s also a state-of-the-art DDoS detection and mitigation solution that supports security and network teams to uncover even 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 mitigation strategies and approaches 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 detection rules and deploy them instantly across your network.

Want to keep your network safe? Try FastNetMon FREE for one month.

24/7 Tech Support

Email Us