Sniffing and its Types | Ethical Hacking (2024)

What is Sniffing?

Sniffing is a process of monitoring and capturing all data packets passing through given network. Sniffers are used by network/system administrator to monitor and troubleshoot network traffic. Attackers use sniffers to capture data packets containing sensitive information such as password, account information etc. Sniffers can be hardware or software installed in the system. By placing a packet sniffer on a network in promiscuous mode, a malicious intruder can capture and analyze all of the network traffic.

There are two types:

Active Sniffing:

Sniffing in the switch is active sniffing. A switch is a point to point network device. The switch regulates the flow of data between its ports by actively monitoring the MAC address on each port, which helps it pass data only to its intended target. In order to capture the traffic between target sniffers has to actively inject traffic into the LAN to enable sniffing of the traffic. This can be done in various ways.

Passive Sniffing:

This is the process of sniffing through the hub. Any traffic that is passing through the non-switched or unbridged network segment can be seen by all machines on that segment. Sniffers operate at the data link layer of the network. Any data sent across the LAN is actually sent to each and every machine connected to the LAN. This is called passive since sniffers placed by the attackers passively wait for the data to be sent and capture them.

Sniffing and its Types | Ethical Hacking (2024)


What is sniffing and types of sniffing? ›

Sniffers can listen in on all traffic passing through the NICs by decoding the encoded information in the data packets. Sniffing attacks are made more accessible by weakly encrypted data packets. The act of sniffing can be classified into two types: active and passive.

What is a sniffing hack? ›

A sniffing attack is when a hacker uses a packet sniffer to capture and access confidential, unencrypted data packets for malicious purposes. This type of data can include both personal data (name, address, telephone number) and financial information (banking details and login credentials).

What is an example of a sniffing attack? ›

An example of packet sniffing is when an attacker uses a packet sniffing tool to intercept unencrypted login credentials being transmitted over a public Wi-Fi network, gaining unauthorized access to an individual's online accounts.

What are sniffing attacks and how can they be prevented? ›

Sniffing attacks refer to data thefts caused by capturing network traffic through packet sniffers that can unlawfully access and read the data which is not encrypted. The data packets are captured when they flow through a computer network.

What is the meaning of sniffing? ›

to smell something by taking air in through your nose: He sniffed his socks to see if they needed washing. Dogs love sniffing each other. She sniffed at her glass of wine before tasting it.

What is sniffing and spoofing? ›

Sniffing involves the collection of data packets, analysis of network traffic, and the interception of targeted packets. On the other hand, spoofing focuses on stealing user data, distributing malware, and facilitating various forms of data theft through phishing attacks.

Is sniffing eavesdropping? ›

Eavesdropping, also known as sniffing or snooping, relies on unsecured network communications to access data in transit between devices.

How does sniffing happen? ›

An active packet sniffing attack injects extra traffic into the target network and waits for the network switch to redirect legitimate traffic. When that happens, the active sniffer gains access to the network switch thus launching the attack.

What is content type sniffing attacks? ›

A content sniffing attack typically involve tricking a browser into executing a script that is disguised as another file type. These attacks can be protected against with correctly configured response headers.

How sniffing is detected? ›

Sniffer Detection Technique: Ping Method

Send a ping request to the suspect machine with its IP address and incorrect MAC address. The Ethernet adapter reject it, as the MAC address does not match, whereas the suspect machine running the sniffer responds to it as it does not reject packets with a different MAC address.

Does VPN protect from sniffing? ›

Data encryption is an excellent choice for individuals and professionals against sniffing. Tunnel your connectivity using Virtual Private Network (VPN) to protect yourself from packet sniffers. When you browse the internet using a VPN, the data passes through a securely encrypted tunnel.

Which protocol is vulnerable to sniffing? ›

The following protocols are vulnerable to sniffing: HTTP. Telnet. rlogin.

What is the purpose of sniffing? ›

Sniffing is a process of monitoring and capturing all data packets passing through given network. Sniffers are used by network/system administrator to monitor and troubleshoot network traffic. Attackers use sniffers to capture data packets containing sensitive information such as password, account information etc.

What is active sniffing and passive sniffing? ›

Most packet sniffing attacks are passive (meaning they quietly collect data traveling through your network), which makes them extremely difficult to detect. But an active sniffer is forced to interact with the network it's monitoring, thereby flooding the network with extra traffic and making it easier to detect.

What is sniffing someone? ›

: to try to get (someone) as a romantic partner, employee, etc. His engagement hasn't stopped him from sniffing around other girls. Rival companies have been sniffing around her for years.

What is an example of content sniffing? ›

Content sniffing involves analyzing the first few bytes of the content to detect patterns or signatures that indicate its type. For example, HTML documents typically start with the "<html>" tag, while JPEG images have specific byte patterns at the beginning of the file.

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