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 Stay safe from sniffing

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arunkumar

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PostSubject: Stay safe from sniffing   Sun Apr 26, 2009 8:36 pm

Stay safe from sniffing





Sniffing is the nastiest trick in the bag of people who want to harm you.

Sniffing implies the use of a network to access data that is not intended for that person. A packet sniffer is a software program or a hardware device that can “listen in on” and track the data going in and out on a particular network. It lets hackers figure out where the information came from, where it will go, and what it contains, giving them a complete picture of your network setup. Unlike similar acts of deceit carried out on the Net, though, like sending spam mails, phishing, the use of keyloggers, etc, sniffing is not all bad. It has its legitimate uses. For example, packet sniffers are used by network administrators to test firewalls and troubleshoot network issues. A network analyser also comes in handy when diagnosing network troubles. But the technology is only as good as the people using it - so sniffing can also be used for malicious purposes. And it has certainly picked up in the frequency of use over the last couple of years.

Programs and devices with this capability can be used to get hold of username and password data, read other people’s e-mail, access documents, etc. What is worse, data gathered in this manner can further be used to carry out planned attacks on unsuspecting victims.

Primarily, sniffing is used to gain access to two kinds of data: passwords, or financial data. Most users need to enter a password at least once or twice a day. Often, we think that because it is password-protected, our data is safe. But this is not so.

The other thing that gets stolen most often is financial information. Everybody feels a little twang of anxiety when they enter their credit card information into a website. Now imagine, if somebody could access that credit card information freely? Enough to set your pulse racing? Hackers can use sniffing devices along with other malicious software, in order to keep the host machine from noticing the intrusion.

Several sniffing tools are freely available on the Internet. Most often, sniffers are deployed when you access a website that contains malware. Email and instant messaging are other methods used to launch such attacks.

You can never be sure if a computer on the Internet is sniffing out information in your home or workplace network. The key to protecting yourself against sniffing is data encryption. Chat programs, email, Web pages and most other programs send information in plain text format, because this is the faster way to do it. But if you don’t want hackers to access your data, you should use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)-protected Web sites and other protection tools.

You can encrypt your passwords, email messages and chat sessions. There are many user-friendly programs available on the Internet that let you encrypt your data. Download and install one of these to protect yourself and your network.

Source: India Syndicate
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