Secure Networks: Endace Packet Forensics Files

Episode 46: Gerald Combs, Wireshark and Stephen Donnelly, Endace

June 14, 2023 Michael Morris Season 1 Episode 46
Secure Networks: Endace Packet Forensics Files
Episode 46: Gerald Combs, Wireshark and Stephen Donnelly, Endace
Show Notes

How did Wireshark come to be, and what’s made it so successful – not just as the pre-eminent tool for analyzing network packet data, but as an open-source project in general?

In this episode Michael Morris talks to Wireshark founder, Gerald Combs, and Endace CTO, Stephen Donnelly, about the origins of Wireshark, and why packet capture data is so crucial for investigating and resolving network security threats and network or application performance issues.

Gerald talks about the early days of Ethereal, a “packet sniffer” he originally created for his own use in his role at an ISP, but subsequently open-sourced as Wireshark. That fortuitous decision was key, Gerald says, to the subsequent ongoing growth and success of the Wireshark project – which will turn 25 years old in July! It enabled developers from around the world to contribute to the project, creating a Windows version in the process, and helping Wireshark to become the gold standard tool for network analysis, used by SecOps, NetOps and IT teams the world over.

Stephen has been using Wireshark right from the earliest days – when it was still called Ethereal – and is one of the many contributors to the project.Stephen and Gerald both talk about why packet analysis is so important for cybersecurity and network performance analysis (the ubiquitous “Packets Don’t Lie” T-shirt – available from the Wireshark Foundation store – says it all really), and discuss examples of the many and varied problems that Wireshark is helping people to solve.

Stephen outlines the differences between network flow data and packet capture data and why packet data is essential for solving some problems where flow data just doesn’t contain the level of detail required.

Wireshark is continually evolving, with support for new protocols, and new UI enhancements that make it easier for analysts to slice-and-dice packet data. Gerald says that Wireshark is almost the perfect open-source project because it allows for a lot of parallel collaboration from contributors in creating new dissectors and ensuring that Wireshark continues to keep pace with the rapid pace of change in networking. Now that planning for Wireshark 5.x has started Gerald also looks ahead to some of the possible new features that might appear in future releases.

And finally, Gerald talks about the new Wireshark Foundation (which Endace is a sponsor of) which has been setup to provide support for ongoing development of the Wireshark project and ensure it continues its resounding success into the future.

Wireshark is coming up on its 25th birthday and still going from strength-to-strength. Don’t miss this fascinating interview with the leader of one of the most successful open-source projects around. Gerald and Stephen’s insightful commentary as well some fantastic tips-and-tricks make this a must-listen episode.