Setting up network infrastructure can actually be rather complicated the second you start dealing with multiple switches, routers and other networking equipment that generally supports a large-scale network. When you’re dealing with such equipment, the security risk also increases as you will have to have security checks on each piece of equipment to ensure the data goes through the network without problems.
In this article, we’re taking a look at IGMP snooping, what it is, how it works and everything else you need to know.
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IGMP Snooping explained
IGMP Snooping is a method that network switches use to identify multicast groups, analyse multicast traffic and send it to devices in a multicast group instead of simply forwarding the traffic to every connected client. Multicast groups are groups of computers or other devices that receive the same network traffic.
IGMP snooping allows switches to forward packets to the correct devices on the network while also ensuring packet integrity and that all devices get the traffic at the same time.
IGMP itself stands for Internet Group Management Protocol. It’s a network layer protocol that allows multiple devices to share a single IP address to receive the same data without having to route the data to multiple endpoints. Devices on a network use IGMP to join and leave multicast groups which share the same IP address and hence, the same data.
A majority of network switches can’t identify multicast groups by default. In such cases IGMP snooping helps switches listen to IGMP messages, transferring them to compatible layers on the OSI model.
IGMP snooping has two main advantages:
- Saves network bandwidth by avoiding sending multiple packets to unwanted hosts.
- Protects network security by only sending multicast data to devices in a multicast group.
On large-scale networks, IGMP snooping can greatly decrease the risk of information leakage and bandwidth wastage. It reduces unnecessarily high traffic avoiding network congestion and ensures that only intended recipients receive any multicast traffic.
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