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Free Analyzer Software Will Work With Wireshark

NetWitness Investigator software allows for session-based analysis of captured traffic
NetWitness thinks packet analysis is the best way to identify and troubleshoot potential security problems on computer systems. In fact, it's so convinced that the company is giving its own analyzer software for free.

NetWitness Investigator analyzer helps IT professionals and security researchers identify anomalies in captured traffic. It can work alongside Wireshark, one of the most popular free tools for incident response and forensics, according to the company, which makes network security monitoring tools and appliances for large enterprises.

"Some of the early reports have suggested that Investigator might be a replacement for Wireshark, but it's really a different type of tool," says Tim Belcher, CTO at NetWitness. "What Wireshark does is allow you to look at billions of packets and flows, and analyze them. What we're doing is turning those billions of packets into thousands of sessions, so you can find what you're looking for more quickly and easily. Then, once you've found the session you want to analyze, you could use Wireshark to look at it more deeply."

The emergence of complex and customized attacks means that traditional signature-based security tools don't always help security pros find and fix the source of a security problem, NetWitness says. Log analysis also can be difficult and tedious, Belcher notes. The free version of Investigator will permit users of all skill levels to analyze and mine large amounts of information -- the actual full content of captured traffic, he says, making it easier to rapidly identify the source of a problem.

"This free solution captures and inspects traffic, identifies problems, and can quickly analyze the most advanced network threats. It's the most powerful insight available and very simple to use," Belcher says. "Today, many organizations have been lulled into a false sense of security because they can't actually see many of the more sophisticated attacks against their infrastructure. If you use WireShark, you'll really appreciate Investigator."

NetWitness isn't giving away Investigator solely out of the goodness of its heart, Belcher says. The low-end tool can be upgraded to the Investigator Enterprise edition, a licensed product that offers a wider variety of features and more sophisticated analysis of sessions and traffic across a large network or organization. "The free version of Investigator is sort of the front end of what we do, but it's not where we derive most of our revenue," Belcher says. "What we're hoping is that if people use the free version and see that packet analysis isn't such an ominous proposition, they'll want to apply it to their enterprise-level security processes."

With the free version of Investigator, a researcher can identify all of the sessions that meet a specific set of characteristics, or that are associated with specific locations or file names, Belcher observes. "If you take that data and combine it with our enterprise products, you could see how many others in the company have downloaded a specific set of malware, or audit all of the activities of an employee who's been terminated," he says. "You can do session-based investigation, either in real time or as part of a forensic analysis."

As part of the announcement, NetWitness rolled out several enhancements to Investigator, including SSL decryption and analysis of encrypted network traffic, interactive charts for instantaneous analysis, and enhanced content views for multiple protocols and applications. Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message

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