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What Is a Vampire Tap?

By Alex Newth
Updated May 17, 2024
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Vampire tap units are devices used to connect a network to another device, such as a scanner or computer. This is called a vampire tap because the unit actually bites into cables, causing tiny holes reminiscent of teeth marks. While the device is commonly used for good purposes, hackers and corporate spies can use it maliciously to monitor everything that occurs on a network. If this device is not used, then the connecting cable has to be manually cut, which can be much harder.

Networks often have many devices, including computers to add to the network’s size and devices the computers use, including scanners, printers and fax machines. There are many ways to attach devices to a network, and one way is through a vampire tap. This device creates a fairly permanent connection, because it permanently alters the connecting cable, and the tap usually is more secure than similar connection devices.

A vampire tap is named after the mythical creature because this device literally bites into the connecting cable. This bite securely and permanently connects the cable between the network and the device. This bite also allows the tap to interact with electricity running through the cable. When the cable is bitten, spikes go into the conductive portion of the cable, allowing the tap to access the power and create a connection between the cable and all associated devices.

This device is most often used for good purposes, but it also can serve malicious purposes. Hackers and corporate spies who have physical access to the network can add a vampire tap. These users will then be able to remotely access the tap, allowing them to go through the network’s files without having to worry about passwords and other security measures. These devices usually will be easy to spot but, if there are many taps or similar devices used at once, then people may not notice an extra unit.

Without a vampire tap, making a similar connection may be somewhat difficult. Unlike other connections, in which a cable connector is just pushed into a port, the user making such a connection would have to manually cut the cable and string the internal components into cable connectors. This is harder than the process used with most other connections, and a vampire tap is considered a convenience device because it makes this type of connection much easier for the user to perform.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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