What Types of Data Do Security Teams Monitor?

Threats to data and network security are climbing quickly — data breaches in the U.S. alone rose more than 10% in 2021. From enterprise organizations to small e-commerce start-ups, every business, no matter the industry, needs to understand the types of data they collect, how to use it, and, most importantly, how to keep it safe.

A digital rendering of a computer network as a blue grid, with data superimposed above it.

In our quickly growing and evolving digital world, network monitoring specifically for security threats and breaches has become a critical component for any business eager to eclipse the competition. Collecting, analyzing, and safely storing data requires IT teams to implement a network monitoring system that is fast, efficient, and robust. However, building the right network is only the first step — your IT professionals will need end-to-end control for ongoing data and security monitoring.

No matter your IT team’s priorities, whether they’re monitoring performance, identifying security concerns, or troubleshooting issues, it’s necessary to understand the impact network security monitoring has on your data. Here we will examine the four types of data every company needs to consider collecting and protecting.

1. API Data

Application programming interface data — better known as API data — is collected by systems as they communicate with each other. Monitoring API data helps your network security team:

  • Identify issues with business-critical applications.
  • Troubleshoot ineffective performances that can hold up processing.
  • Examine the functionality of other applications.
  • Protect private customer data from being stolen.

Your IT team may use API data to troubleshoot issues with help desk ticketing software. APIs also exchange sensitive customer data for online order management, payment processing, database records, and more. APIs are often unique to specific systems, users, interfaces, and purposes. This makes them very complex and, therefore, network monitoring and security for API data can be, too.

2. Packet Data

Packet data gives IT admins in-depth insight into some of the most complex and challenging network and data problems. Primarily used in network management, application performance monitoring, and security analysis, packet data analysis is how network security teams determine the root cause of issues. IT admins and network security systems use this data to understand how a cybercriminal entered a system and what happened once they gained access. In other words, packet data empowers you to both identify data breaches and prevent future ones from happening.

Packet data is also very useful for identifying low-level issues. Because it is the most granular data a network admin can examine, this type of data helps you troubleshoot issues caused by:

  • User error;
  • Application latency;
  • Security breaches;
  • Network traffic;
  • Remote access.

If you want to improve network management and data security, empower your IT team with tools that provide robust packet data analysis.

3. Flow Data

Flow data is king when it comes to troubleshooting common issues and general network security monitoring. Flow data is metadata that describes and characterizes connections made over a network. Monitoring this kind of data is incredibly useful for:

  • Examining details about various protocols;
  • Monitoring to and from ports;
  • Identifying top bandwidth users;
  • Tracking IP addresses;
  • Examining degradation issues;
  • Enabling network alarms;
  • Generating reports;
  • Identifying network performance issues.

Because flow data is collected and delivered in many formats, network security monitoring should permeate each step of the collection and analysis process.

4. Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)

Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) plays a key role in solving most troubleshooting puzzles. From identifying issues in specific machines to monitoring network performance, SNMP helps data and network security admins diagnose health issues of various devices such as processors, routers, switches, firewalls, load balancers, servers, CCTV cameras, and wireless.

Although SNMP focuses more on devices than data, since your data is stored and transferred via these devices, it’s essential to include it in your network monitoring system and data monitoring tools.

Network Data Monitoring Tools

IT teams need software and tools to monitor network security that provide visibility, management, security, and scalability. Modern network monitoring and management requires you to stay on the cutting-edge of technology with:

  • Real-time and automated device discovery;
  • Powerful diagnostics;
  • Secure remote access;
  • Vulnerability detection;
  • Hardware and software integration.

Some of the most common tools, scalable for a wide variety of industries and business sizes, include packet sniffers, SNMP monitors, and LAN analyzers.

Packet Sniffers

By targeting packets of data transmitted over the internet, packet sniffers empower IT admins to monitor traffic in real-time. With the speed and immediacy of packet sniffers, network security teams can diagnose and resolve performance problems with servers, networks, hubs, and applications.

SNMP Monitors

SNMP monitors help collect, organize, and modify device health and behavior. Armed with these tools, your network security and data monitoring admins can leverage protocol to better control:

  • Firewalls;
  • Routers;
  • Switches;
  • Servers;
  • Printers;
  • Bridges;
  • NAS drives;
  • UPS, and more.

With SNMP monitoring, you can track useful information that helps your IT teams gain valuable insight into performance and vulnerability.

LAN Analyzers

Networks are made up of individual devices interconnected by a communication medium. This means that if one device is vulnerable or even breached, others are at risk, too. That’s what makes local area network (LAN) analyzers, or network analyzers, such a powerful network security tool.

Network security admins use LAN analyzers to troubleshoot network performance, enhance protection against malicious activity, and monitor signals as they are sent through cross-communication channels.

How to Effectively Monitor Network Data

To effectively monitor data and keep networks secure, your IT team needs to understand how these different types of data keep your business moving forward. And the depth of knowledge doesn’t end there. Since different network configurations need specific solutions, proactive monitoring begins at the network setup. Empowering your IT professionals with data and network security monitoring tools gives them the tech edge all businesses need to streamline operations and prevent risks.

There is no end to the data streams your IT teams encounter each day. To quickly and effectively identify an issue, network admins need tools to collect and parse that data. Otherwise, they would spend weeks or even months just trying to locate the root cause of an issue. Proper network data monitoring requires software that empowers them to transform data into solutions.

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