Deep packet inspection

What is deep packet inspection?

Deep packet inspection (DPI) is the process of examining data packets traveling through a network. It is used in many security and network management applications, such as those that can detect and block access to unofficial websites, spam, or malicious apps. Also, DPI allows complete visibility into the data entering and leaving organizations, unlike conventional packet filtering. Conventional packet filtering reads only the header of data packets (the details of the destination), whereas DPI reads the content of data packets.

How does deep packet inspection work?

All data is broken down into smaller data packets before being sent over the internet. As these data packets pass through firewalls, they are analyzed for security loopholes. This includes examining encrypted data packets traversing the network. The entry of the packets is governed by rules set up by IT admins that specify which packets are allowed or blocked. DPI can be enabled in firewalls, in intrusion detection systems, or on gateway servers to guide data packet entry.

  • Gain complete visibility into your cloud applications with our cloud application discovery tool.

  • Skim through these eight best practices for boosting cloud application security.

Benefits of deep packet inspection

Deep packet inspection tools are preferred by network admins because they:

  • Offer better cloud visibility:

    DPI is one of the key strategies in intrusion detection systems, particularly deep content inspection, which is part of DPI. Deep content inspection is the process of reading the metadata of the content to analyze internet access, upload, and download requests.

  • Resolve network latency:

    In addition to helping you enhance security, the network traffic information collected helps you optimize network bandwidth usage. DPI can prioritize packets with crucial data to be sent first into the network, allowing time-bound requests to be served first.

  • Block peer-to-peer downloads:

    Peer-to-peer (P2P) downloads may include harmful payloads along with the resources that a user wants. For example, free software downloads from P2P torrent sites often include ransomware payloads. DPI-enabled applications can block these risky P2P downloads and ensure the network is not compromised by them.

  • Censor harmful content:

    Web apps that contain unsafe content can be blocked by sysadmins to prevent unlawful internet access. This is particularly useful in educational institutions to restrict access to unauthorized resources. Another important use case is identifying and blocking malware packets entering the network.

  • Facilitate data loss prevention:

    Since DPI provides the ability to control which websites can be accessed, admins are able to not only regulate packets entering the network but also stop sensitive content from leaving the network.

Admins can leverage DPI-enabled tools for better network utilization and security. However, there are some points to keep in mind when deploying such tools. DPI stops, reads, and then processes network data packets. This required additional resource utilization can lead to longer loading times for users. Furthermore, as an extension of monitoring the data packet content, users' search history is monitored. This may violate certain privacy policies. When setting up DPI in your infrastructure, ensure you address these points and periodically evaluate your DPI policies and tools to keep them relevant.

How DataSecurity Plus helps strengthen cloud security

ManageEngine DataSecurity Plus is a data visibility and security solution that offers thorough, actionable insights into file servers, Microsoft SQL servers, and endpoints. Our cloud protection tool provides DPI-based insights to help you restrict access to undesired websites. With DataSecurity Plus, you can:

  • Inspect internet access requests generated by users and view details on the type of application accessed and its reputation.
  • View the risk profile of an accessed website based on our internal threat analytics database and use it to block harmful applications.
  • Maintain a list of trusted applications that users need on a daily basis.
  • Prevent users from accessing phishing and malware sites by adding unauthorized websites to a banned apps and websites list.
  • Scrutinize shadow applications or websites that would not have otherwise been visible to you. Even harmless shadow apps, like entertainment apps, can negatively affect productivity.
  • Use multiple gateway servers to ensure that users have secure, uninterrupted access to the internet across your network.

In addition to cloud protection capabilities, DataSecurity Plus has a lot to offer for data security. You can also:

  • Discover and classify sensitive data across your file servers and Microsoft SQL servers and facilitate compliance with the GDPR, SOX, HIPAA, the PCI DSS, and other security mandates.
  • Get real-time file server insights into who accessed which files and spot suspicious insider or potential ransomware attack attempts.
  • Analyze user permissions and publicly accessible files to secure your file repositories with tighter controls.
  • Eliminate old, duplicate, and stale files that are not in use or belong to orphaned users directly from the product interface.
  • Monitor endpoint activity and enforce restrictions on file copy actions, USB access, and application execution as guided by your organizational needs.

Try all the features of DataSecurity Plus in a free, 30-day, fully functional trial. Alternatively, get a guided walkthrough of DataSecurity Plus here.

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