Deep packet inspection (DPI), as the name suggests, is a type of network packet filtering and an advanced mode of examining network packets. In DPI, network packets that are transmitted through an inspection point are evaluated. At this inspection point, a DPI tool determines where the packets came from, whether a service or application. With DPI, packets are categorized, inspected, and redirected to prioritize business-critical applications and other online services. Network administrators then figure out what to do with the packets in real time.

A network is like a cargo flight. It travels from one place to another (source and destination). The source is the sender, and the destination is the receiver. The network’s numerous data packets are the cargo on the flight. Each piece of cargo has a source and destination address. A DPI tool evaluates the packets’ source addresses and categorizes them based on their priority, just like how the cargo service categorizes the cargo as fragile, confidential, edibles, heavy machinery, and more. Also, the DPI tool evaluates the source and destination addresses to determine the types of senders and receivers for security purposes in order to detect any suspicious activities.

We can now infer that DPI is used to analyze, locate, identify, categorize, and redirect data packets for packet filtering. A DPI tool doesn’t just perform packet filtering. It also eliminates any threats, such as viruses, scams, probes, and malicious attacks, that would affect the health of the network.

Go deep into DPI

In an organization, a strong network is considered a boon as it is incredibly vital for better performance, which eventually leads to better productivity. With DPI, you can define your packet filters based on the demands of critical services or applications in your organization. For example, a DPI tool can reroute the network traffic from video streaming services (like Netflix or YouTube) or any social media apps (like Instagram or Twitter) as they are bandwidth hogs that affect the traffic of business-critical applications. Thus, DPI allows you to enable the immediate transmission of high-priority data ahead of low-priority data.

As mentioned earlier, a DPI tool examines traffic patterns to detect malicious activities that pose threats to your organization’s network. DPI is based on policies defined by network administrators, allowing you to check for any intrusions that defy these policies that are set for the applications and services.

A standout quality about DPI is that you can customize the data flow from an internet service provider (ISP), enabling individuals and organizations to keep data usage in check. Therefore, DPI is used to minimize the exhaustion of data caused by non-critical applications and services.

Standard packet inspection only examines the packet header data, such as the source and destination IP addresses. DPI stands out by looking into the comprehensive data and metadata associated with a packet. In other words, it scrutinizes all the data in a packet (not just the packet information) before sending it for network inspection. A DPI tool mirrors the image of a firewall as it performs in-depth packet filtering for data in real time. Enterprises depend on DPI tools for advanced network security as they detect any noncompliance with traffic protocols.

A DPI tool aids in keeping track of network performance issues as it detects the root causes of any application-level errors. It also minimizes latency for business-critical applications and improves application visibility. Enterprises can customize the packet filters using DPI to prevent data leaks through out traffic and to track where their data packets go. All this is possible without actually slowing down the network, eliminating bandwidth hogs. With DPI, data analysis is refined to a granular level of accuracy as you can pinpoint a particular interface or protocol that needs to be resolved for optimal usage of bandwidth.

Why do enterprises need DPI?

  • Network security

As adoption of the BYOD culture increases, with DPI, enterprises can manage remote workforces by protecting their devices from security attacks that threaten the enterprise network itself. In other words, DPI is used at the enterprise level to foresee sophisticated intrusions that might appear as authorized packets but actually end up being malware, viruses, or other security threats. For instance, governments can use DPI as a lawful intervention to surveil the information that is being sent over the virtual network. This can stop sensitive data from being leaked.

  • Network management

Enterprises need fast, stable internet connections for the better functioning of operations. That means enterprises need to prioritize business-critical applications over non-business-critical applications. With DPI, enterprises can perform better network traffic management by setting up policies to transmit high-priority data packets through the network before low-priority ones.

  • Tracking of browsing tendencies for marketing

Since enterprises extract the content from packets and read it as part of their security policies, this will help them leaf through browsing habits to know prospective customers’ interests better. That way, enterprises can tailor their advertising to their target audiences effectively.

  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic reduction

Any enterprise must ensure that its quality of service is not compromised due to poor performance issues as customers can become highly dissatisfied, resulting in decreased revenue. One of the main reasons for degraded performance by ISPs is P2P traffic, which usually involves the sharing of large-size files, which increases the traffic load and calls for additional network capacity to prevent bandwidth congestion. Thus, with DPI, you can control the amount of P2P traffic that is being generated, preventing customer disappointment. DPI remains foremost in the pecking order of services when it comes to protecting the network health of an enterprise.

Improve your network security and performance with NetFlow Analyzer’s Network Packet Sensor

 ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer is a flow-based network bandwidth tool that provides real-time visibility into your applications, interfaces, and devices. For gilt-edged, unerring bandwidth monitoring, NetFlow Analyzer offers the Network Packet Sensor. The Network Packet Sensor is an agent-based installation that combines the capabilities of the NetFlow Generator and the DPI Engine.

With the NetFlow Generator, you can monitor traffic from non-flow-supporting devices, while the DPI Engine uses packet capture to mirror packets and analyze them. With the DPI Engine, you can monitor the application response time and network response time to figure out whether a problem is with an application or the network itself.

You can also see how the overall user experience is affected as higher response times result in bigger bandwidth bottlenecks. With the DPI Engine, you can eliminate network latency issues. You can now install up to 10 Network Packet Sensors when configured as DPI Engines under one NetFlow Analyzer license.

Try our free, 30-day trial, or reach out to our support team experts for more information.