Many system administrators use Wireshark to monitor incoming and outgoing data on corporate networks. The program sits on the server and records all data as it enters or leaves the network. The program is commonly used to trace and troubleshoot network connectivity problems, but you can also use Wireshark to monitor the network; for example, a business might use the program to detect inappropriate employee activity or a school might deploy the system to ensure pupils aren't accessing social networking sites.
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Things you need
- Hub or network switch with port mirroring or port scanning functions
- Ethernet cable
Ensure all PCs that you want to monitor connect to a network hub or a network switch with port scanning capabilities. This is a typical setup for a corporate network but if you want to use Wireshark on a home network, you may need to reconfigure the network by installing a hub or switch between the computers and the internet modem or router.
Connect the laptop or desktop computer on which you've installed Wireshark directly to a free port on the network hub with an Ethernet local area network cable.
Launch Wireshark. Select "Capture Interfaces" to launch the Capture Options dialog box. Click to select the check boxes beside the network connections you want to monitor; in this case, ensure you select all Ethernet settings. You can run the capture for as long as you want -- press "Ctrl-E" on your computer keyboard when you want to stop the capture.
Click the "Statistics" tab in the main menu, and then select "Hypertext Transfer Protocol" in the file tree menu, followed by "Load Distribution" to open a new dialog window. Type "http.host" into the input field, and then press "Enter" on your keyboard.
Read the data capture results in the "HTTP Requests by HTTP Hosts" section. HTTP is the internet address protocol used by websites so this data read-out will show you all website traffic coming into and out of your home or office network. The data includes information from your own PC and all other computers to connected to the network via the hub or switch.
Tips and warnings
- Check your company's data usage policy before monitoring network connections.
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