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"Do You Understand SNMPv1, SNMPv2c, and SNMPv3?"

The SNMP protocol is based on the manager/agent model, and it has three major versions: SNMPv1, SNMPv2c and SNMPv3.


V1, v2c, and v3 are the principal versions of the SNMP protocol. Undertanding the basic differences between them is key if you have monitoring equipment that supports SNMP.

These different generations of SNMP have created a definite fracturing of what was once a simple architecture. Now, you have to consider the multi-generational SNMP versions you have in play and consider mediation devices to convert older SNMP to the newer version. This is why we'll dive into these SNMP versions and learn the main differences between them.

Understanding SNMPv1

SNMPv1 was the first version of SNMP. Although it accomplished its goal of being an open, standard protocol, it was found to be lacking in key areas for certain applications. Later versions have addressed many of these problems. Smaller RTUs commonly support SNMPv1.

Now, Let's Take a Look at the SNMPv2c

SNMPv2c is a sub-version of SNMPv2. Its key advantage over previous versions is the Inform command. Unlike Traps, which are simply received by a manager, Informs are positively acknowledged with a response message. If a manager does not reply to an Inform, the SNMP agent will resend the Inform.

Other advantages include:

Keep in mind that not all devices are SNMPv2c compliant, so your SNMP manager should be downward compatible with SNMPv1 devices. You can also use an SNMPv3 mediation device to ensure compatibility.

And Finally, What is the SNMPv3?

SNMPv3 is the newest version of SNMP. Its primary feature is enhanced security.

The "EngineID" Identifier in SNMPv3 uniquely identifies each SNMP entity. Conflicts can occur if two SNMP entities have duplicate EngineID's. The EngineID is used to generate the key for authenticated messages.

SNMPv3 security comes primarily in 2 forms:

The NetGuardian 832A is one example of an RTU that supports SNMPv3.

Are you Struggling through an SNMPv3 Transition?

If now you have to use only secure/encrypted SNMPv3, you need a way to avoid replacing all of your current v1/v2c SNMP gear. A mediation device allows you to do that. You can keep your older gear and add SNMPv3 security.

Do You Want to Know More About SNMP?

The Fast Track Introduction to SNMP by Marshall DenHartog is a quick, 12-page introduction to SNMP. You'll learn about traps, message formats, the MIB, and other fundamental SNMP concepts.
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