wireshark

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The Wireshark team has long warned us not to run Wireshark as root. However, since Wireshark 1.4 (between Ubuntu 10.04 and 12.04), they’ve raised the stakes. Wireshark no longer loads all its plugins and protocol dissectors when run by root, and it displays warning messages on the CLI and the GUI:

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Sniffing on a switch

I’m an IP network engineer. When something goes wrong, the first thing I do is sniff packets. Got a SIP phone that won’t register? Forget reading logs; sniff 5060/udp and read the SIP chatter directly. A customer complains that “Yahoo chat doesn’t work”? Sniff 5050/tcp and look for TCP hangups, login failures, or ICMP “port unreachable” messages.

Sniffing is easy when you have access to the intermediate router, but that isn’t always the case. What if you’re just another PC on the same switch? That’s impossible, right?

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Not long ago we started having very unusual issues our email servers. Mail would be inexplicably held for delivery, bounce back, or fail to send for hours and then send without issue later. Some users couldn’t fetch email by POP until they restarted their mail client. We investigated the mail software, but weeks of investigation turned up nothing.

Around the same time, we also experienced intermittent problems logging in to MSN Messenger, and some users complained of issues accessing certain web pages, including a lot of HTTPS links. I began to suspect these were related.

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