Promiscuous Mode

What Does Promiscuous Mode Mean?

Promiscuous mode is a type of computer networking operational mode in which all network data packets can be accessed and viewed by all network adapters operating in this mode. It is a network security, monitoring and administration technique that enables access to entire network data packets by any configured network adapter on a host system.

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Promiscuous mode is used to monitor traffic.

Techopedia Explains Promiscuous Mode

In promiscuous mode, a network adapter does not filter packets. Each network packet on the network segment is directly passed to the operating system (OS) or any monitoring application. If configured, the data is also accessible by any virtual machine (VM) or guest OS on the host system.

Typically, promiscuous mode is used and implemented by a snoop program that captures all network traffic visible on all configured network adapters on a system. Because of its ability to access all network traffic on a segment, promiscuous mode is also considered unsafe. Like a system with multiple VMs, each host has the ability to see network packets destined for other VMs on that system.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.