Build a wireless network sniffer

    Date18 Jan 2005
    13902
    Posted ByBrittany Day
    This article reviews common issues of wireless security, and shows how to use open source software to suss out wireless networks, get information about them, and start recognizing common security problems. You will learn how to build a lightweight wireless sniffer that runs on open source software and, see how simple it is to interact with wireless networks.

    This article, the first in a two-part report, reviews common issues of wireless security, and shows how to use open source software to suss out wireless networks, get information about them, and start recognizing common security problems.

    One of the best ways to make sure information is kept secure is to broadcast it using a published standard, and to try to make sure the signal goes as far as possible. Right? Well, maybe that isn't the best strategy after all. Unfortunately for us, the convenience of wireless access to a network means that a lot of people use a wireless network, and that means that a lot of data is being broadcast in the clear.

    In this article, I'll build a lightweight wireless sniffer that runs on open source software. You'll see how simple it is to interact with wireless networks. The information the sniffer collects offers some insights on key wireless security issues.

    It's easy to underestimate the availability of wireless networks. During testing for this article, I had a recurring problem: my equipment kept accidentally picking up networks other than the ones I wanted to test. In fact, my laptop has found wireless networks to associate with while I'm traveling on the freeway! So, one obvious thing for a wireless network scanner to do is to identify the names and signal strengths of local wireless networks.
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