Broadly speaking, ntopng considers an host any IPv4 or IPv6 address for which it has seen some traffic in at least one of the interfaces monitored. Hosts are continuously monitored by ntopng to account for total traffic volume, layer-7 application protocols, and contracted peers, just to name a few.
To give an example, let’s consider ntopng is monitoring interface eth1 with IP address 192.168.2.1 of a desktop that is trying to PING host 192.168.2.2. ntopng will see the following packets:
- ICMP echo requests exiting eth1 with source IP 192.168.2.1 and destination IP 192.168.2.2
- ICMP echo replies entering eth1 with source IP 192.168.2.2 and destination IP 192.168.2.1
As two different IP addresses are seen, ntopng will create, update and make available through the Web GUI two hosts, namely, 192.168.2.1 and 192.168.2.2. The whole section Hosts of this guide thoroughly discuss all the information that is available for any host.
However, not all hosts are handled equally by ntopng. ntopng can be told to treat some hosts with special care. ntopng refers to those hosts as local hosts. But why we should tell ntopng to handle some hosts differently from all the others? Basically, to save resources. Indeed, extra work is done by ntopng to collect, extract, and store additional information for local hosts, including visited websites, DNS requests, and historical timeseries of layer-7 application protocols. Therefore, we should avoid letting ntopng do extra work for hosts we do not care with the aim of saving CPU cycles and disk space.
Typically, local hosts coincide with the hosts in the Local Area Network (LAN). A network administrator cares most about the hosts he/she is managing, rather than those in the rest of the world. For this reason, a network administrator that is managing a network 10.0.0.0/8 would start ntopng as
ntopng --local-networks 10.0.0.0/8 <plus other options>
Optionally you can name the local networks in the following way, in order to remember the place those Hosts belongs to.
ntopng --local-networks 10.0.0.0/8=Office,192.168.2.0/24=Home <plus other options>
All hosts that are non-local are defined as remote hosts. The following table briefly summarizes the differences between local and remote hosts.