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A vampire tap is a device that connects 10BASE5 cabling to Ethernet transceivers. The vampire tap gets its name from the way it taps into a cable. It pierces or bites through the insulation of the cable instead of slicing both ends to attach connectors.
To connect the cable to the transceiver, a hole is drilled through the outer shielding. A spike is then forced through the hole to contact the inner conductor while other spikes are clamped onto the outer conductor. A small cable or attachment unit interface (AUI) is then connected from the vampire tap to the network interface card (NIC) in the computer.
Vampire taps allow a connection to be completed on a cable while the cable is operating. This feature enables technicians and administrators to increase the connections in a network topology without interfering with communication.
While clamping the vampire tap onto the cable, it is important not to allow the spike to touch the outer shield. There are some installation kits that have a coring tool and braid prick. The coring tool helps drill an accurate hole through the outer layers and the braid pick aids with clearing unwanted fragments within the outer shield.
Without a vampire tap, the coaxial cable must be cut to enable connectors to be attached at both ends. Vampire taps can be used for malevolent practices that involve transparent network monitoring.