Open Source WLAN Analyzers

Open Source WLAN Analyzers

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Written By Eric Sandler

By Lisa Phifer

July 20, 2004

Companies looking for an open source WLAN analyzer have plenty of options.

Those on a tight budget or unfamiliar with WLAN analyzers may prefer to cut their teeth on shareware or open source programs. Depending upon your needs, you may even find these programs sufficient. We can’t hope to provide an exhaustive list, but here are a few available shareware and open source programs to give you an idea of what’s out there.

Administrators that don’t (yet) have officially-supported WLANs may find that shareware stumblers are useful for on-the-cheap rogue AP spot-checks. Shareware stumblers include:

  • Aerosol (Win32)
  • Dstumbler (BSD)
  • MacStumbler (MacOSX)
  • NetStumbler (Win32)
  • MiniStumbler (WinCE)
  • WaveStumbler (Linux)
  • Wellenreiter (Linux)

Stumblers aren’t traffic analyzers — but many readers will find these useful, either alone or as a complement to more extensive WLAN analyzer programs.

A variety of open source software packages offer more features than just stumbling, including:

Airscanner Mobile Sniffer (WinCE) is a free-for-non-commercial-use sniffer that runs on Pocket PC 2002. (A commercial version is also available, but product development has been discontinued.)

Airtraf 1.0 (Linux) is a freely-available open source sniffer for 802.11 networks. (A commercial hosted version, Airtraf 2.0, is also under development.)

BSD-AirTools (NetBSD, OpenBSD, FreeBSD) is an open source distribution that provides “basic analysis of the hardware-based link-layer protocols [using] Prism2’s monitor debug mode.”

Ethereal (*NIX, Win32) is an open source LAN analyzer that can decode many kinds protocols, including 802.11 WLAN protocols. Windows packet capture capabilities are limited due to lack of RFMON mode card drivers for that OS.

Kismet (Linux, BSD, MacOSX, Cygwin) is an open source 802.11 WLAN “detector, sniffer, and intrusion detection system” that includes decryption of WEP-encrypted packets. Captured packets can be fed into programs like Ethereal for further analysis.

Related Articles

KisMAC (MacOSX) is similar to Kismet, though no relation, and is for the Macintosh specifically. (Kismet’s documentation says it can be compiled for MacOS X.) [Added July 22, 2004.]

Packetyzer (Win32) is Windows GUI add-on that extends the foundation provided by Ethereal. Like Ethereal, Packetyzer’s frame capture is limited unless you combine it with an RFMON-capable probe like Network Chemistry’s RFprotect Sensor.

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