Publication details

PCAPFunnel: A Tool for Rapid Exploration of Packet Capture Files

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Year of publication 2021
Type Article in Proceedings
Conference 2021 25th International Conference Information Visualisation (IV)
MU Faculty or unit

Institute of Computer Science

Keywords Data analysis; Data visualization; Network traffic analysis; Packet captures
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Description Analyzing network traffic is one of the fundamental tasks in both network operations and security incident analysis. Despite the immense efforts in workflow automation, an ample portion of the work still relies on manual data exploration and analytical insights by domain specialists. Current state-of-the-art network analysis tools provide high flexibility at the expense of usability and have a steep learning curve. Recent---often web-based---analytical tools emphasize interactive visualizations and provide simple user interfaces but only limited analytical support. This paper describes the tool that supports the analytical work of network and security operators. We introduce typical user tasks and requirements. We also present the filtering funnel metaphor for exploring packet capture (PCAP) files through visualizations of linked filter steps. We have created PCAPFunnel, a novel tool that improves the user experience and speeds up packet capture data analysis. The tool provides an overview of the communication, intuitive data filtering, and details of individual network nodes and connections between them. The qualitative usability study with nine domain experts confirmed the usability and usefulness of our approach for the initial data exploration in a wide range of tasks and usage scenarios, from educational purposes to exploratory network data analysis.
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