Deep packet inspection

What is Deep Packet Inspection?

Deep packet inspection (DPI) is a type of data processing that inspects in detail the data being sent over a computer network, and may take actions such as alerting, blocking, re-routing, or logging it accordingly. Deep packet inspection is often used to baseline application behavior, analyze network usage, troubleshoot network performance, ensure that data is in the correct format, check for malicious code, eavesdropping, and internet censorship,[1] among other purposes.[2] There are multiple headers for IP packets; network equipment only needs to use the first of these (the IP header) for normal operation, but use of the second header (such as TCP or UDP) is normally considered to be shallow packet inspection (usually called stateful packet inspection) despite this definition.[3]

There are multiple ways to acquire packets for deep packet inspection. Using port mirroring (sometimes called Span Port) is a very common way, as well physically inserting a network tap which duplicates and sends the data stream to an analyzer tool for inspection.

Deep Packet Inspection (and filtering) enables advanced network management, user service, and security functions as well as internet data miningeavesdropping, and internet censorship. Although DPI has been used for Internet management for many years, some advocates of net neutrality fear that the technique may be used anticompetitively or to reduce the openness of the Internet.[4]

DPI is used in a wide range of applications, at the so-called “enterprise” level (corporations and larger institutions), in telecommunications service providers, and in governments.[5]

Deeper look into how DPI works

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