What is sniffing?
Sniffing in the computer-technology sense refers to the act of eavesdropping on network traffic, perhaps between a computer and a website or between two computers.
When used for malicious purposes, sniffing can result in private information being stolen.
How does it work and what’s the risk?
Sniffing allows a user to obtain data while it is being transmitted through a network.
It’s often used for legitimate purposes to help with diagnosing issues that might exist on a network, but it’s also used by hackers to gain control of sensitive data like passwords or usernames.
Passwords are typically the most stolen piece of information in online hacks.
With sniffing, victims are usually unaware that their password characters are being sent across a network in a form that can easily be seen by a sniffer.
Thieves could also read emails sent between two machines, or look at database records that contain sensitive information about a person or corporation.
In some instances, information can be used to start an attack against data that exists in another computer system.
Your bank account numbers or other similar information could also be stolen; unencrypted data is most at risk of being stolen during a sniffer’s attack.
During financial transactions online, sniffers could be able to see account numbers which could then be used to take money out of an account or to pay for something online.
How to protect against sniffing
First and foremost, keep confidential information such as usernames and passwords or bank account information encrypted when it is being sent throughout the Internet.
Programs exist that can also encrypt emails.
If you use File Transfer Protocol (FTP) to transfer sensitive files of any kind, consider using Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) instead.
SFTP encrypts the connection to help protect the information being shared.
If you use a network protocol to remotely access and manage a device, consider using Secure Shell (SSH), which uses encryption and keeps the information being sent out of the hands of sniffers.
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