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What is the best VPN traffic monitoring tool for enterprises?

Monitoring VPN traffic is a critical task. Expert Kevin Beaver explains what to look for in a VPN traffic monitoring tool and offers a few free and open source options for enterprises to consider.

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What is the best technology for monitoring VPN traffic? Are there certain considerations my company should take...

into account when choosing a VPN monitoring product? What are some of the top vendors in this category, and are there any open source or free options?

When it comes to VPN traffic monitoring, the most important considerations your organization needs to think about are first, what are you trying to accomplish, and second, what are your requirements?

From a high-level perspective, you might want to monitor:

  • General connection information (for example, who, what, when, where and how long);
  • Connection problems (such as failures, retries and so on);
  • Security attacks, anomalies and other questionable behavior (including large resource usage or packets sent/received by a specific host); and
  • Application usage over the VPN connection.

Specific requirements might include:

  • Ease of use;
  • Client- or network-based;
  • Integration with your existing technologies (such as VPN type(s), security information and event management systems, data loss prevention tools, among others);
  • Visibility and controls;
  • Auditing and reporting capabilities; and
  • Price.

Depending on what's required, your enterprise might already have the means to monitor its VPN traffic. It could be built right into your VPN concentrator, firewall or server.

While I can't speak for "top" vendors, I can recommend a few free and open source products that may be worth considering depending on your needs: CiscoWorks VPN Monitor, Nagios's VPN plug-ins, VPNTTG or VPN Watcher. I've seen these tools in action and they can certainly serve a great purpose for small startups to larger enterprises.

If you're looking to simplify, you might also want to consider using a cloud-based VPN service that will likely have a dashboard and many of the monitoring features you're looking for.

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This was last published in April 2015

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