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What Is Network Forensics? How to Successfully Examine the Network?

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The growth in networking activity, connectivity, and complexity has been accompanied by increasing criminal activities conducted within the networks. Therefore, forcing both law enforcement and enterprises to undertake specialized investigations. However, making sense of fragile digital data inside the network can become a very complex and difficult task if one is not aware or specialized in network forensics.

In this article, we will discuss network forensics, different steps involved in examining network forensics, different tools available for network forensics, and the difference between computer forensics and network forensics.

What Is Network Forensics?

Network forensics analyzes the network traffic and monitors data packets transferred over the internet for intrusion and malware detection. It involves collecting and recording data, analyzing the issue, determining the best troubleshooting response, and implementing it.

Network forensics experts collect data from different websites and network equipment, including intrusion detection systems (IDS) and firewalls, to analyze network traffic data. Moreover, network forensics can also be used for monitoring, preventing, and analyzing potential attacks.

Network Forensics Examination Steps

The following are the seven different steps involved in the network forensics examination.

1. Identification

The first step in the network forensics examination is identification. This step is very crucial as it can have a huge impact on the conclusion of the case. The step involves the process of recognizing and determining the incident based on the different network indicators.

2. Preservation

The second step in the network forensics examination is preservation. In this step, the network forensic expert will isolate the data to ensure that people do not tamper with the evidence. There are different cyber forensics tools available that can help with the preservation of evidence. These include tools such as Autopsy and Encase.

3. Collection

The third step in the process is known as collection. In this step, the network forensic expert records the physical scene and duplicates digital evidence using the standard procedures and methods.

4. Examination

The examination is the fourth step in the process. In this step, the network forensic expert will record all visible data and examine different pieces of data that might be useful in the court of law.

5. Analysis

The fifth step in the network forensic examination is an analysis of the collected data. In this step, the expert will draw a conclusion based on the evidence that was collected and examined previously.

6. Presentation

The sixth step in the network forensic examination is the presentation of analysis. It means that the evidence is presented in the court of law, wherein the expert will summarize and provide an explanation of the conclusions at hand.

7. Incident Response

The final step in the network forensic examination is incident response. The detected intrusion is based on the data gathered for validating and assessing the incident.

Types of Tools Available

There are several different tools available that can help with network forensics. These tools include

  1. dumpcap
  2. Xplico
  3. NetworkMiner
  4. snort
  5. Scapy
  6. Libpcap
  7. ngrep

All of these tools are designed to help you at different stages of the network forensic examination.

Difference between Computer Forensics and Network Forensics

Network forensics is a sub-branch of computer forensics or digital forensics. However, it is significantly different than digital forensics. For instance, network forensics deals with dynamic and volatile information, whereas computer forensics mainly deals with data at rest. That said, network forensics deals with the monitoring of computer network traffic for collecting legal evidence which can be useful in the investigation process.

Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI) Certification Program

If you are looking to work in the network forensics space, then EC-Council has the best certification available for you. EC-Council’s CHFI (Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator Certification Program) certifies individuals in the specific security discipline of computer forensics from a vendor-neutral perspective.


What is the goal of network forensics?
The primary goal of network forensics is to analyze and monitor the network traffic so as to prevent any potential attack from happening while collecting evidence to locate the source of the attack.
Is network forensic in demand?
Yes, network forensic experts are in high demand, as organizations are aggressively looking to safeguard their confidential information and protect their network from getting attacked.

Over 15,000 Forensic jobs remain unfilled!

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