A sniffer is diagnostic tool that provides network administrators with a view of how data is flowing through their networks, packet by packet. A good sniffer helps network administrators optimize networking functions. A bad sniffer helps hackers find holes in network security.
The best way to protect a network from being exploited by uninvited guests is to monitor the normal ebb and flow of data as it traverses the network. That way, network anomalies can be quickly detected and addressed. Network Associates introduced a new network and security management solution from its Sniffer Technologies division this week that makes this level of network management a lot easier for smaller businesses.
The standalone software solution works like a network assistant. Aptly dubbed Netasyst, the network-analyzing tool is specifically designed for small and mid-size businesses especially those with 100 to 500 employees. Netasyst alone provides a flexible system for monitoring, troubleshooting and securing wired and wireless networks. With the addition of the Expert Analysis option, small businesses can pinpoint root causes of network problems as intelligently as large corporations can.
"Small and mid-size businesses have the same core requirement to ensure that their networks are running efficiently and securely, but also need a solution that is cost-effective and easy to use," said Stephen Elliot, senior analyst at IDC. "Deploying a solution like Netasyst that is specifically designed to meet the needs of today's SMBs, it will help to ensure that their businesses are not affected by downtime or security breaches, which could be detrimental to the vitality of their business operations."
Understaffed and Overworked
Because IT managers at small and mid-size businesses often have multiple responsibilities with limited budgets and resources, providing a quick and easy resolution to networking and security issues is paramount. Netasyst Network Analyzer provides the network administrator with a multi-functional tool that addresses key business performance issues including:
Immediate Problem Resolution: Netasyst can be used to identify and resolve network and application issues, and can help IT staff determine whether the application, server, or network is responsible for poor performance. The software can also help IT staff identify misconfigured devices such as workstations, routers and servers. Netasyst does not just identify the problem; it provides the supporting details that helps solve the problem helping improve overall end-user productivity.
Enhance Existing Security Measures: Netasyst complements existing security solutions such as firewalls, anti-virus software, virtual private networks (VPN), and intrusion detection systems (IDS). It provides packet-level details that help validate the effectiveness of these security measures. Netasyst can also identify virus and worm-infected hosts and servers on the network, minimizing detection and clean-up time and reducing financial risk due to exposure a feature that will be well received if viral exploits, such as those experienced over the past two weeks, continue to increase.
Improved Network Performance: Netasyst also helps administrators understand network usage issues, identify non-business use such as personal instant messaging and video streaming programs, and spot inefficient and "chatty" applications, all of which cause unnecessary bandwidth consumption. By identifying and fine-tuning these and other issues on their networks, smaller businesses save money by improving overall network efficiency and performance.
Steve Finegan, Network Associates product marketing manager, said there is an endless array of networking tasks Netasyst can help smaller business perform.
"Netasyst is a protocol analyzer so it sees inside a network much like an x-ray sees inside people," Finegan explained. "It could be used before deploying a new application because Netasyst can verify if the network can support the new traffic levels. After a new application is deployed it can verify the original assumptions about the changes in data flow. Netasyst can help efficiently deploy a new CRM [customer relationship management] application, for example. It essentially pays for itself by maintaining network performance and verifying existing security measures."
What Is To Be Done?
Netasyst Network Analyzer's capacity for data monitoring and analysis is impressive. With the addition of Expert Analysis software, network administrators can tap into network expertise beyond their knowledge.
"Netasyst helps network administrators pinpoint the root causes of network problems and intelligently define and explain probable solutions to those problems," Finegan said. "Alarms and filters can be used to alert managers to the presence of the malicious or abnormal network activity. Netasyst then pages or e-mails the administrator. Expert Analysis then provides a checklist of things to look at to resolve the problem."
"Sniffer Technologies continues to raise the bar on protecting the security and availability of our customers' networks. Netasyst Network Analyzer is the best solution on the market for today's small and mid-size companies looking to fully optimize and secure their networks," said Ray Smets, president of Sniffer Technologies. "Network Associates is committed to delivering best-of-breed security solutions tailored to needs of our customers from consumers and small businesses all the way to the largest enterprises."
Pricing and Availability
Netasyst is available today through Network Associates channel partners and direct sales force. Pricing varies with network topology required; six different products are available. The stand alone Netasyst Network Analyzer runs $1,395 for a 10/100 LAN, and $1,395 for an 802.11 wireless LAN. Netasyst Network Analyzer for both a wired and wireless LANs runs $2,790. Netasyst Network Analyzer with Expert Analysis starts at $3,295, topping out at $6,590 for combination wired and wireless LANs.
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