Types of Network Monitoring ApplicationsInformation security is a big ticket issue for organizations, as sensitive data represents a gold mine for cyber criminals. Data breaches cost companies an average of $3.5 million in 2014, according to an IBM study. Another major risk for companies is network downtime. This costs companies up to $5,600 per minute, according to a Gartner survey. There’s no sure fire method of stopping hackers in their tracks or preventing a hardware issue from taking the network down, but businesses have several ways to proactively fight against network related issues. Network monitoring applications provide IT staff with a powerful tool for handling problems before they turn into productivity destroying disasters. These tools are not one size fits all applications for a business. Networks have their own unique challenges, depending on the set up. The best network monitoring for a network that allows employees sole access on-site has different monitoring requirements than a network infrastructure using a hybrid cloud model and allowing telecommuting employees. 

Packet Analyzers

Packet analyzers examine data packets moving in and out of the network. This tool may sound simple, but the uses it provides to IT are substantial. This is a go-to tool for everything from making sure network traffic is routed correctly to ensuring employees aren’t using company Internet time for inappropriate websites. Packet analyzers also help detect potential network intrusion by looking for network access patterns inconsistent with standard usage. 

Applications and Services Monitor

Miss a critical service failing and a company could be facing extended downtime while the problem gets sorted. Applications and services monitoring tools keep track of essential systems required to keep the network up, running, and healthy. If something goes wrong, this tool notifies network administrators and other authorized personnel so the problem gets fixed long before it takes out the entire network. This monitoring software also works well for tracking application usage across the organization. 

Intrusion Detection

Letting authorized employees in while keeping hackers out requires a lot of work. Intrusion detection software uses several tools to proactively scan the network and look for potential intrusion. For example, if a network only allows employee logins from on-site computers and specific IP addresses, a login attempt from a smartphone on a non-approved IP would be logged in the intrusion detection software. Another benefit of this application is determining potential vulnerability points. If the application picks up successful intrusion, an organization can fix the vulnerability leading to network access. 

Off-Network Monitoring

Today’s business network infrastructure often includes cloud-based services and employees’ personal devices. Organizations can’t keep networks locked down tight when they need to keep open channels outside the network. This infrastructure presents a challenging monitoring situation for network administrators. Network monitoring tools designed to track traffic to and from the cloud, as well as access by BYOD employees, help lessen the potential for data breaches related to a more open network structure. 

Network monitoring tools help with everything from keeping critical services running to stopping hackers from getting into the network unnoticed. The right tools depend on the organization’s network infrastructure and primary goals for the application, with some options covering a wide range of needs. 

William Thompson is the Marketing Manager at Power Admin, a server monitoring software business in the Kansas City area. You can find him on Google+ and Twitter. William has been a professional in website design, digital marketing and 3D/graphic design for over 20 years.

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