Since the news last week about LG "smart" TVs ignoring privacy settings and sending all your viewing and media information to LG, BBC News LG investigates Smart TV 'unauthorised spying' claim, I started looking at increasing monitoring of network activity at home and see what my Wii or Sony Blu-ray player or other devices are up to.
Virtually any router allows you to enable SNMP which is enough to collect aggregate interface traffic. I have been using Cacti for recording traffic for years.
What I've found is that DD-WRT has something called "rflow" to send live packet information to a monitoring server - an equivalent of Cisco NetFlow. The Network Traffic Analysis With Netflow And Ntop guide is very good, and on Ubuntu the ntop server is readily available. This gives a live view of what systems are connecting to what, how much traffic is passing on different protocols and top users. Great if there's any question of who is hogging all the tubes.
But not enough to tell if your "smart" DVD player is reporting to Sony that you enjoy "midget porn" in the privacy of your own home (I'm not judging; that was the example in the BBC article). For that, I will need to look at some bigger iron - Snort to really go whole hog.