Introduction to Traffic Analysis

Data security has been a common issue for IT professionals in every field. With the introduction of the Intrusion Detection System, now it is much easier to track malicious activities. However, the problem with these systems is that they can detect malicious sources but cannot take any measures to stop them. Intrusion prevention system (IPS) is an advanced version of the intrusion detection system that can detect malicious attacks and prevent them as well. The intrusion prevention systems have taken network security to the next level. There are many mechanisms used by these systems to prevent the data from being hacked such as signatures matching, protocol validation, TCP segment reassembly, and traffic analysis. 

Traffic analysis helps ethical hackers to intercept the messages in order to construe the pattern of communication. Once they deduce the patterns in which hackers are trying to extract the private information, they act accordingly. Either they change their pattern of communication between entities, or install another security layer in the firewall, or change the security rules or the content of the data shared. 
Growing Demand for Intrusion Prevention Systems

Recently, Bricata, a cybersecurity startup from Colombia, invested $8m in a Series A financing round led by Edison Partners to support the update of its intrusion detection and prevention system. The new version has been installed with threat hunting capabilities and context-aware alerting. Along with these features, line-speed packet inspection capabilities ensure sustained security visibility into network traffic.

Another startup company, which has expanded in recent years, is the Rome-based startup company Mentis Technologies, which develops cybersecurity systems to prohibit hackers from intruding into the private data of the organizations. It was previously awarded with a SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) and also provides a dark web scanning tool, called InfraDrip, which aims to monitor and alert the entities if their Personally Identifiable Information (PII) has been leaked onto the dark web. Also, the Department of Defense (DoD) of the U.S. has awarded a contract to Mentis Technologies for developing cybersecurity solutions for the U.S. Air Force.

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Emerging Applications of Traffic Analysis

The integrity and security of data is the major concern for most of the organizations these days. Intrusion detection systems are a complement to the firewall security. If any black hat hacker tries to break in through the firewall and steal or destroy the information, the IPS not only alerts the entity in case of a breach in security, but it also prevents the malicious attacks with the help of traffic analysis mechanism. Owing to these reasons, traffic analysis has a wide array of applications.

  • IT & Telecommunication - Traffic analysis helps the IT & Telecommunication industry to keep a check of the threats that try to intrude and steal the private information.
  • Government - Government bodies need to ensure their data security and integrity, in which traffic analysis plays a great role.
  • Research - The research work needs to be kept as a secret until they are officially announced by the authorized organization. Usually, the competitors or other hackers want to intrude in the private information shared. Traffic analysis helps to maintain the safe exchange of data.
  • Health Care - Information like the electronic medical record (EMR), patients’ databases, mobile health, and so on needs to be secured. IPS finds its application for such purposes.

Challenges Faced by Intrusion Prevention Systems in Traffic Analysis

Despite aiding in a number of applications, traffic analysis has some issues as well. The major disadvantage of traffic analysis is that this mechanism has been used by hackers lately to get the private information shared by the entities. This means that the same mechanism that can ensure safety, can be misused for unethical purposes. 
Another challenge faced by the software is that it is rather reactive than proactive. It protects the data from the malicious attacks once the attacks have started but it doesn’t prevent those attacks from occurring beforehand. The better part is that a lot of developments are being carried out to overcome this hurdle. There are a number of ways to prevent hackers from intruding into the communication systems even if they use the network traffic analysis mechanism. The administrator can identify anomalies in traffic patterns and, hence, prevent the data from getting corrupted.
The major players playing a key role in developing the technology such as Cisco Systems, Inc., Netreo Inc., Dynatrace LLC, Flowmon Networks, Zoho Corporation, Ipswitch, Inc., GREYCORTEX, and others are making constant efforts in developing the traffic analysis technique involved in IPS. One of the major key players of this technology, Flowmon has introduced a product called Flowmon Traffic Recorder, which is an efficient tool to tackle the network security and operational issues. Another company, GREYCORTEX, has launched the latest version of its Mendel network traffic analysis solution: Version 3.2. Efforts like these by the key players are likely to have fruitful results in the future. 

Traffic analysis has an effective role to play in the Intrusion Prevention System. It not only monitors the network traffic for the hacker attacks but also prevents those attacks from damaging the data. Traffic analysis is a cost-effective and easy-to-deploy technology. Due to this reason, this technology has a promising future. As security has moved to the center stage, administrators have started focusing on the intrusion prevention systems. Although being in the budding stage, traffic analysis seems to have a promising growth in future.  

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