A packet sniffer is a network tool used by technicians to identify and analyze problems with the network. A packet sniffer can also be utilized by hackers to mine data, such as identity information. Packet sniffers come in both hardware and software forms.
A packet sniffer gathers data by intercepting and recording any traffic it can detect and access over a wireless or wired network. Once a data packet is intercepted and captured, the packet sniffer analyzes it before encoding it into a user-friendly format. For hacking purposes, packet sniffers are used to intercept any unencrypted data and can be used to get passwords from normal computer users.