21 February, 2017
Deep packet inspection (DPI) can be defined as a technology that is used to scrutinize the contents of the data packets being sent and received on a network. It is a type of packet filtering that is mainly applied to verify if the data is free of Trojans, viruses, malware etc. and is being transmitted in the right format. The technique allows the users to identify, categorize, block or reroute data packets that contain a malicious code.
Deep packet inspection combines the firewall technology with intrusion detection and prevention systems. It is mainly used by internet service providers to monitor network traffic and allocate bandwidth according to the contents of the data packets.
How does deep packet inspection work?
When you share information over the internet, it is converted into a packet with a header that describes the origin, source and type of data. The content of the data packet is usually not monitored. However, when a network provider uses deep packet inspection, the content is thoroughly scanned and recorded to ensure that it is in compliance with the security protocols. This could be related to the presence of a malicious code or suspicious software.
Benefits of deep packet inspection
- It can help to protect against denial of service (DoS) attacks, differential denial of service (DDoS) attacks and buffer overflow attacks.
- Deep packet inspection is used by many cyber security agencies to monitor web traffic, online user activities, regulate malware threats and protect extensive local or wide area networks.
- The ability of DPI devices to inspect data packets meticulously helps to prevent malware from breaching or manipulating a network.
- The data provided by deep packet inspection can also be used for network analytics and bandwidth management.
Potential misuses of deep packet inspection
Despite its numerous advantages, deep packet inspection has many limitations as well. Some of these have been discussed below:
- DPI helps to prevent various hacking attacks but it can be also be used to exploit the same vulnerabilities to breach the security of the target network.
- It requires frequent updates and patch installations to function in an optimal manner.
- It can be used by hackers to track user information anonymously.
- DPI slows down the computer which affects the performance of other applications.
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