What is Network Traffic Analysis?

Network Traffic Analysis (NTA) is a category of cybersecurity that involves observing network traffic communications, using analytics to discover patterns and monitor for potential threats. NTA solutions can be powerful tools for any organization, alerting security teams to an infection early enough to avoid costly damage. However, in today’s threat landscape, there are many different types of cybersecurity solutions, so let’s examine what sets NTA apart, and why you should incorporate it.

How Do NTA Solutions Work?

The practice of traffic analysis is actually much older than the Internet. For example, the military began intercepting radio traffic beginning in World War I, and the interception and decoding work done by analysts at Bletchley Park quickly became a critical part of battle strategy during World War II.

Though we’ve advanced considerably from radio technology, the principle of traffic analysis remains the same. Communication traffic patterns are scrutinized for information that will help keep assets secure. By monitoring network traffic, abnormal activity from threat actors can be detected early on, thwarting attackers before they achieve their goal of destruction or theft.  

Gartner published its first Market Guide for Network Traffic Analysis in 2019. Since it is a newer category, there is a significant amount of variation between solutions. However, there are a few key similarities:

  1. Traffic Observation. Instead of monitoring specific assets or the network itself, these security solutions constantly watch network traffic, creating a picture of what normal traffic patterns look like.
  2. Anomaly Detection. With a baseline developed, NTA tools can then flag traffic abnormalities as possible security threats.
  3. Threat Investigation. Though there are multiple approaches to this, NTA tools should have some degree of analysis of anomalies to determine whether it’s a harmless abnormality, or a true threat.

Why Do I Need an NTA Solution?

Since organizations have more assets and house more sensitive data than individuals, they will always be at risk of attack. Organizations benefit from the increased protection an NTA solution provides for a number of reasons, including:

They shorten the dwell time of infections. Discovering threats as soon as possible is the best way to minimize damage. The longer an infection lives in a network, the more damage it can do. Swiftly detecting a threat can ensure that there is minimal harm.

They improve efficiency. Most organizations do not have the resources to have personnel devoted to actively monitoring for and investigating risk around the clock. These solutions automate threat detection, allows organizations to do more with less and ensures that security analysts are able to focus more on threat removal.

They provide wide coverage. By monitoring traffic, NTA solutions can monitor different types of devices. For example, many NTA solutions are OS agnostic, monitoring traffic from both Linux servers and Windows workstations.

The Importance of Layered Security

Both IT environments and their attackers have grown far too sophisticated for a single solution to protect them. Focusing solely on prevention is no longer enough. Security strategies must be as multi-faceted as the infrastructures they protect. A zero-day approach to security is becoming increasingly common—meaning organizations operate with the mindset that they will at some point be breached and should layer security accordingly.

NTA solutions are ideal for this approach. While it’s critical to have a prevention layer with antivirus tools which focus on blocking as much malware as possible from entering the system, it’s equally important to have a defensive layer using tools like NTA solutions which detect infections that use techniques like phishing emails to sneak in.

Network Traffic Analysis With Network Insight

Since there is substantial variation between NTA solutions, it’s important to find the solution that best suits your environment. So what makes Core Security’s solution different? In addition to having all the standard NTA features, Network Insight stands apart for several reasons:

Protection for every endpoint. Oftentimes, many high-end IoT and other devices go unwatched, causing hidden gaps between technology. Network Insight is agentless as well as OS and platform agnostic, so no device is left behind and you have ongoing visibility across your entire environment.

Multiple threat detection engines. While it’s standard practice to set a baseline, Network Insight goes further, leveraging multiple detection engines focused on analyzing behavior, content, payload, threat intelligence, and more. This eliminates meaningless alerts, and ensures you have definitive proof of infection.

Comprehensive threat database. Network Insight doesn’t just learn from your environment’s behavior. Core Security’s threat intelligence database includes more than 15 years of evidence collected from observing billions of DNS requests a day, thousands of malware samples, and nearly 100 billion domains, providing unmatched threat intelligence.


While any NTA solution will detect threats, Network Insight will pinpoint infections that other solutions miss.

Find out just how effective NTA solutions are at detecting threats.

CTA Text

Read a real world example about a large telecommunications company that immediately found infections that other solutions missed.