Filtering Sensitive Data with Network Instruments Observer

You want to share some data that you have captured on your network with an outside consultant, but you need to protect sensitive data in the payload.  Do compliance issues govern how you save captured data?

The new filtering capabilities within GigaStor and Observer allow you to apply pre-capture filters to prevent specific types of confidential payload data (like VoIP calls or PCI information) from being captured and stored, while keeping performance metrics intact. You can also run post-capture filters to exclude specific types of payload content before sharing captures with others.

In the following example, we’ll create a new pre-capture filter to exclude VoIP payload data from being stored on a GigaStor. The set up would be the same for Observer. Use the following steps to set up the filter:

  1. From the main console screen in the GigaStor, select the active instance you wish to filter. From the overhead menu select Capture, and from the drop-down menu choose GigaStor Control Panel.
  2. From the Control Panel view, select Actions > Filter Setup for Selected Probe.
  3. From the Active Filters window, choose New Filter to create the filter. Click OK when finished.
  4. Right click on the new filter and select Edit Rule As > Packet Partial Capture to configure the VoIP Calls filter.
  5. Within the Packet Partial Capture window, set up the rules for how the filter is applied. In the upper-portion of the window, filter by IP address, range or subnet, as well as MAC address or IPv6 address. The bottom portion is used to filter by application or protocol. Payload bytes should be set to zero to exclude all payload data. When finished, click OK to apply the filter
  6. In the list of active filters, check the new filter to activate it and click OK. Within GigaStor, you should see the filter you created appear by name in the upper-right portion of the main console screen. This indicates that it has been activated. Note: If you have a saved capture, you can also apply the same filter to post-capture data.

This filter is an easy way to ensure the security of payload data before capture and when sharing captures with outside parties.

Monitoring, Monitoring, Monitoring

Whenever we start talking about remote availability and performance monitoring in  contact centre’s there seems to be some confusion about the differences between this and call recording/agent quality monitoring and voice quality monitoring.  This discussion describes the differences between each and where they are used.

Call Recording/Agent Monitoring/Quality Monitoring

This refers to an application that records and captures data from conversations between the customer and contact centre agent.  This would include tracking the agent desktop  during customer interactions. The application allows supervisors to playback an agent-customer conversation and at the same time see exactly what the agent was doing during the call. Some of these applications involve speech analytics to assist with call trends analysis. This information allows contact centre supervisors to assess agent performance and business rules in terms of efficiency and appropriateness, as well as to coach performance and offer self-paced training to agents who need it.

Voice Quality Monitoring

Good quality voice transactions are key in the contact centre.  As contact centre’s move to a unified communications platform voice and data converge onto the same network.  In the unified communication world voice quality can be really great in one spot, and really lousy somewhere else.  Depending on the call path, voice quality numbers reported can be 100% accurate but misleading, i.e., the audio could be completely unintelligible for some reason, but the network could be carrying that garbled audio perfectly, resulting in a perfect score. On the other hand, the network may distort the audio somewhat due to packet loss or jitter, resulting in a less than perfect calculated score, yet the message could easily be intelligible by a real person.

You need to understand how a call sounded to your customer.  There are a number of VoIP monitoring technologies that allow you to determine the voice quality whether that is passively watching the packets, independent verification using synthetic calls or pulling the information from the PBX itself.  This can report on the packet loss, jitter, and delay that each call is experiencing and give you a quality score.

Remote Availability & Performance Monitoring

Is an external monitoring method that periodically calls or interacts with self-service customer facing solutions to ensure they are available and performing as expected. It is external because the transaction is generated outside the system being monitored just like a real end-user transaction.

Let’s think how a contact centre is put together. Now overlay the sequence of interactions a caller has with the self-service or communications technology and all its supporting functionality (e.g., switching, routing & hunting, speech reco and text-to-speech technologies, data access & retrieval methods, CTI screen pop, etc.). Now associate each step of a typical telephone call with a unique part of the contact centre’s self-service infrastructure including CTI and routing processes required to transfer a call to an agent as well. Because each test call follows a carefully defined script from the time the equipment goes off-hook and dials all the way through the end of the call, a remote availability and performance monitoring transaction acts just like a customer doing a specifically defined activity (such as checking an account balance, reporting a power outage, etc.). It verifies at each step that the system is saying exactly what is expected and responding to the end-user’s inputs within established response time thresholds. It is accessing and interacting with the self-service system. By doing so it is literally monitoring the availability and performance of that system. If the test call process determines the system is not saying what it is supposed to at any step, or taking too long to respond to end-user inputs, notifications alert someone specifically designated to assess the severity of the issue and to deal with it.

In monitoring your contact centre you need information in all three areas giving you the information on how different areas work together.   Each will give you a view into your centre, but now you know the difference and what you get with – Agent Monitoring, Voice Quality Monitoring, and Remote Availability and Performance Monitoring

Dynamic Load Balancing for Mission Critical Traffic

The Volume and momentum of today’s network traffic raises new challenges for your mission critical environment.  That’s why Net Optics covers you with three advanced load-balancing options for optimizing tool utilization and splitting traffic.  In particular, dynamic load balancing is a unique new solution that only Net Optics offers for sending flow based traffic to the least-utilized output, solving the issue of monitoring devices that are unable to keep up.

Unique to the industry, Three options to Load Balance.

A single device can’t perform all your load balancing requirements, so Director Pro lets you distribute the workload among multiple devices.  You can select both flow-based and packet round robin-based algorithms for balancing traffic across two to thirty-two monitoring ports – the highest port density in the industry!

Dynamic Load Balancing

Net Optics innovated this breakthrough approach to help you balance loads optimally under the soaring pressure of Web Traffic., VoIP, and intensive utilizations such as intrusion detection.  Dynamic load balancing responds instantly to fluctuations in real-time traffic levels-switching in an available IDS appliance to share the load and automatically shuttling each new flow to the least-utilized output.  The result is coherent, even traffic flow, no matter how high the demand, plus Dynamic Load Balancing lets you respond to the failure of a vital appliance by automatically switching traffic to a hot spare device.  The problem is solved before it can affect your quality of service


Static Load Balance

Static load Balancing enables you to pre-configure traffic flows based on historical data or current requirements, setting up multiple static load balancing groups to process distinct input streams.  Traffic is distributed to multiple monitoring outputs based on selected packet header criteria, such as IP address or VLAN.  Both static and dynamic load balancing work in conjunction with Director Pro’s Aggregation and filtering features

Round Robin Load Balancing

Round Robin load balancing is a packet-based solution that lets you process both IP and non-IP traffic using first come, first served queuing.  This capability allows all packets to take turns in a periodically repeated order, with priority given to the longest waiting packet