NetFort Advertising

Can one have too much visibility?

Looking deeper into what is happening on a network

An interesting problem cropped up during our company huddle this morning.  Our head of development had the floor and was giving us an update on some recent modifications to our Bittorent decoder.

Our LANGuardian Bittorent decoder is used heavily, especially by some of our University customers, to track DMCA notices. For example one can enter the info hash into a search field and get back information such as the IP address, user name, etc.

Bittorent is a complex protocol, tracking it and extracting/storing the critical detail is not that easy.   We have to issue regular updates to ensure accuracy and coverage.  Bit of a pain for our development team, I feel for them!

A nice side effect of our latest update is that for some downloads we can also report the actual file, movie, video names, plain text, readable, interpretable but as mentioned by the developer,  maybe too much visibility for some customers? The movie and video names can be very explicit and even upsetting for some people. So do we report the name or not?

Bittorrent file names

But, I also remember back to a meeting years ago in Dublin, where the network admin had investigated one user for continuous bandwidth abuse causing the other users to complain ‘the Internet is slow today’ on that site.  HR got involved, a meeting was called, and the user asked to explain.  User explained he was downloading research papers and doing nothing wrong.

The admin was able to instantly produce a report listing the movie names (including the complete Harry Potter box set) dates, times, the user had downloaded. The smoking gun, proof to eliminate guesswork and save time, stress for everybody. User owned up immediately and the issue was resolved.

And just last week, we had the following feedback from a new customer in the UK, food company.

This product is amazing… I’m getting an insight into the network that I have never had before and seeing activity that I just did know was going on!

This guy, Simon, was definitely not complaining about having too much visibility.

I guess it may be useful to have the information at your fingertips IF and WHEN you need it, the last step of a drill down, but, not in your face all the time? Back to the customer, let’s get their opinion, listen to them.

John Brosnan
NetFort CEO