Identifying and Arrests Hacker Intrusion with Visual Analysis

Stanford University implemented Tableau Professional to see complex data from many perspectives and focus on the important relationships and key insights.

"Tableau Software makes numbers dance."

Customer Profile

Founded in 1891, Stanford University is one of the most respected research and academic institutions in the world.

Customer Case Description

The Computer Graphics laboratory is designed for teaching and research. The infrastructure of the lab is maintained by active collaboration of the faculty, staff, and students.The key challenge was to find an application that enabled iterative, visual analysis of thousands of data fields.

In July 2004, the laboratory manager received an e-mail from the university’s networking department complaining about a rogue FTP server running within the domain. That day the machine had produced very high traffic volumes to offcampus locations and the manager was asked to investigate.

The data used in the analysis consisted of Cisco NetFlow records from a Stanford router. A network flow is defined as a unidirectional sequence of packets between a given source and destination endpoints. Network flows are highly granular; flow endpoints include a time-stamped summary of source, destination, protocol, and number of packets and bytes. Each source or destination consists of an IP address and a port.

The primary challenge was to find and implement an analysis application that supported this type of investigation. In particular, the application needed to (1) support Microsoft SQL Server, (2) be able to quickly sift through millions of records of data, and (3) be able to manipulate and display many dimensions of the data simultaneously.

The Solution

Stanford University selected Tableau Professional.

The visual analysis features of Tableau enabled Stanford to “see” this complex data from many perspectives and focus on the important relationships and key insights. Tableau’s advanced filtering functionality and its ability to quickly iterate through multiple ad hoc queries and displays made it uniquely suited for this investigation.

For More Information About This Case

Contact: or call (206) 633-3400 x1

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