PCAPs (packet captures) are invaluable information sources for identifying assets and activities on a network. We’ve talked before about the role they can play for organizations starting their visibility journey.
If your organization hasn’t started leveraging PCAPs or isn’t sure what the best approach would be, this blog explores how data from PCAP analysis can be useful and what to consider when looking at how to utilize it in your environment.
Enable OT Initiatives with the Power of PCAPs
The information stored in a packet capture can provide insights into network performance, communication patterns, protocol details, and more. PCAPs can also be used to identify devices on the network, and can be further analyzed to uncover associated device metadata such as the IP address, MAC address, vendor, device type, serial number, or firmware.
All of this information is valuable in establishing and maintaining visibility across your network, both at a point in time and as any changes occur. Gathering and utilizing this data is often the first thing teams across the organization need.
For example, asset identification data pulled from PCAP files can be used to start building an asset inventory for any sites that may not have one, or the data can be used to enrich existing asset inventories. These asset profiles can then be used to help meet compliance requirements by identifying which assets might fall under regulatory scope.
Asset and network information can also be used to aid in vulnerability management (identifying machines or software versions with known vulnerabilities), patch management, identifying any out-of-date assets, and troubleshooting in the event of an unexpected occurrence during operations.
Implementing Effective PCAP Analysis in OT Networks
The key to making the most out of the data found in PCAPs is in capturing the right information and locating the right tools to find, access, and utilize this data. PCAPs for analysis should be filtered for important information, such as communications in critical networks, specific protocols, and other relevant data.
Manual packet analysis through tools like Tshark/Wireshark, tcpdump, and the OT PCAP Analyzer are examples of tools that can give teams a valuable starting point in evaluating a snapshot of the assets and their communication patterns on a network. The process, however, can be fairly time-consuming.
Since analysts and operators are unlikely to be analyzing huge numbers of PCAPs at all times, manual analysis might best be leveraged in forensic efforts following an incident, or to inspect anomalous behaviors.
Utilizing tools that can automatically process PCAPs can provide faster, near-real-time insight into any changes in traffic, communications, or other asset information as they occur. If this PCAP data can feed directly into your existing security tools, dashboards, and other sinks, this information can be made easily accessible across the organization.
Operators, analysts, and members of other teams may not have the time or capacity to learn an entirely separate tool, especially if it’s complicated or overly restrictive. Integrating network and asset data from PCAPs into your current tools and workflows ensures that teams can access the data they need to make informed decisions.
Establish Visibility, Monitor Activity, and Empower Your Teams
Whether you’re just getting started on your visibility journey or want to make the process you already have in place more efficient, SynSaber’s solution is a low-hardware, software-based sensor that can be deployed in even the most remote, resource-constrained environments. We’re dedicated to eliminating blind spots across your OT environment. Easily identify and monitor assets, without costly hardware or a steep learning curve.
If you want to see SynSaber in action or have any questions, feel free to reach out to a member of our team.