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BackTrack – Testing Wireless
Network Security
Secure your wireless networks against attacks, hacks,
and intruders with this step-by-step guide
Kevin Cardwell
BackTrack – Testing Wireless Network Security
Copyright © 2013 Packt Publishing
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First published: June 2013
Production Reference: 1180613
Published by Packt Publishing Ltd.
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ISBN 978-1-78216-406-7
Cover Image by Vivek Sinha ([email protected])
Kevin Cardwell
Aaron M. Woody
Project Coordinator
Joel Goveya
Clyde Jenkins
Abhinav Singh
Arif Jatmoko
Lee Allen
Acquisition Editors
Martin Bell
Erol Staveley
Commissioning Editor
Yogesh Dalvi
Technical Editor
Nitee Shetty
Copy Editors
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Cover Work
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About the Author
Kevin Cardwell currently works as a freelance consultant and provides consulting
services for companies throughout the world. He developed the Strategy and
Training Development Plan for the first Government CERT in the country of Oman
and also developed the team to man the first Commercial Security Operations Center
there. He has worked extensively with banks and financial institutions throughout
the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and the UK. He currently provides consultancy
services to commercial companies, governments, major banks, and financial
institutions across the globe.
About the Reviewers
Aaron M. Woody is a security consultant with over 15 years of experience in
Information Technology, with a focus on security. He is a speaker and an active
instructor, teaching hacking, forensics, and information security. In addition to this,
he has been a technical reviewer on several titles published by Packt Publishing.
Aaron maintains two blogs: and www.datacentricsec.
com. Aaron can also be followed on Twitter at @shai_saint.
Aaron is the author of Enterprise Security: A Data-Centric Approach to Securing the
Enterprise, Packt Publishing.
Abhinav Singh is a young information security specialist from India. He has
a keen interest in the field of hacking and network security and has adopted this
field as full-time employment. He is the author of Metasploit Penetration Testing
Cookbook, Packt Publishing, a book dealing with pen-testing using the most widely
-used framework. Abhinav's work has been quoted in several portals and technology
magazines. He is also an active contributor to the SecurityXploded community.
He can be reached by mail at [email protected] or on Twitter at @abhinavbom.
I would like to thank my grandparents for their blessings, my
parents for their support, and my sister for being my perfect doctor.
Arif Jatmoko (MKom, CISSP, CISA, CCSP, CEH) is an IT Security Auditor at Bank
Mandiri, Indonesia, and a private pentester for a few government projects. Prior
to joining the bank, Arif had spent over 15 years working as a computer security
specialist, computer forensicist, and malware analyst. From the early stages of his
career, he has been working with top Fortune 500 companies as an IT security officer
and has run several pentest projects for government and military institutions.
Now, he is working on a research about protocol reverse- engineering related to
application systems within financial transactions such as banking.
Lee Allen is currently the Vulnerability Management Program lead for one of the
Fortune 500 countries.
Lee is also the owner of, which is dedicated to bridging the gap
between learning and fun by providing 3D video games that teach and reinforce
complex subjects such as Linux command-line and penetration-testing skills.
Lee Allen is the author of Advanced Penetration Testing for Highly-Secured
Environments: The Ultimate Security Guide, Packt Publishing.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Installing and Configuring BackTrack
Downloading and configuring BackTrack
Installing BackTrack
Updating BackTrack
Validating the interfaces
Customizing Gnome
New wave theme
Creating a virtual machine
Chapter 2: Working with the Wireless Card
Chapter 3: Surveying Your Wireless Zone
Chapter 4: Breaching Wireless Security
Checking card compatibility
Detecting the wireless card during the boot process
Detecting the wireless card using iwconfig
Configuring the wireless card
Wireless card modes
Protocol analysis with the network card
Exploring devices
Working with tools
Using Kismet for access point discovery
Discovering hidden access points
Different types of attacks
Cracking WEP and WPA
Table of Contents
Performing an attack using WEP
and ChopChop
Chapter 5: Securing Your Wireless Network
Appendix: Wireless Tools
Configuring initial wireless security
Defending from surveillance
Configuring encryption
Settings that provide protection from masquerade and rogue
AP attacks
[ ii ]
This book is for the reader who wants to understand more about their wireless
network, and how to use a software distribution such as BackTrack to be able to
survey their wireless environment and select a robust and secure configuration.
What this book covers
Chapter 1, Installing and Configuring BackTrack, shows the reader how to install,
configure, and customize BackTrack. At the end of this chapter, the reader will have
a working and customized BackTrack application.
Chapter 2, Working with the Wireless Card, shows the reader how to work with the
configuration and deal with the sometimes challenging task of getting their wireless
card to work within BackTrack. At the end of this chapter, you will have a wireless
card that works with the tools within BackTrack.
Chapter 3, Surveying Your Wireless Zone, covers how to use the tools within BackTrack
and examines the wireless environment around you. You will learn how to identify
wireless networks and determine the characteristics of these networks. At the end of
this chapter, you will have a fundamental understanding of the components that are
visible when surveying your zone.
Chapter 4, Breaching Wireless Security, introduces the reader to the way in which
hackers typically break into networks. Within this chapter, you will get to practice
some of the more common types of attacks. At the end of this chapter, you will have
seen the technique used to crack WEP and WPA.
Chapter 5, Securing Your Wireless Network, shows you how to apply all of the
knowledge gained from the previous chapters, and also gives you the opportunity to
examine and evaluate the security settings possible for your wireless network. At the
end of this chapter, the reader will be able to make the best decisions when it comes
to securing their home wireless networks.
Appendix, Wireless Tools, lists a number of tools, with a brief explanation of each tool
and links to other resources with respect to the tool.
What you need for this book
A computer with a minimum 2 GB of RAM (4 GB is recommended) is needed.
You will also need virtualization software products. The book uses the VMware
Workstation; but if you are familiar with others, you can use them. You will require
the BackTrack distribution. The steps for its installation and configuration are
included within the book.
Who this book is for
This book is for anyone who wants to know more about wireless networks and/
or how to secure their wireless networks. The book has been written for readers at
a beginner's level, but they should be familiar with networks. For those who have
more experience with the software, this book can serve as a refresher and validation
of your skill sets.
In this book, you will find a number of styles of text that distinguish between
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explanation of their meaning.
Code words in text, database table names, folder names, filenames, file extensions,
pathnames, dummy URLs, user input, and Twitter handles are shown as follows:
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toor (root in reverse)."
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[email protected]:~# /etc/init.d/networking start
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Tips and tricks appear like this.
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Installing and Configuring
In this chapter, we are going to look at the following with respect to using BackTrack:
• Downloading and configuring BackTrack
• Installing BackTrack
• Updating BackTrack
• Validating the interfaces
• Customizing Gnome
• Creating a virtual machine
Before we focus on downloading, installing and configuring Backtrack,
I will provide a brief introduction to Backtrack. The BackTrack distribution is
actually a combination of two different distributions merged together. There
are many distributions that are available, but BackTrack distribution has been
created specifically for professional security and penetration testing. The BackTrack
distribution was the result of a merger between the two distributions Whax and
Auditor. For a brief on some of the distributions, including Auditor, you can find
a presentation that I gave at Black Hat in 2005 via this link:
The name BackTrack comes from the term backtracking, which is the name of a
search algorithm.
Installing and Configuring BackTrack
Downloading and configuring BackTrack
The BackTrack distribution comes in a variety of formats; the format you choose
is largely a matter of personal preference and your comfort with creating virtual
machines. Each one of the distributions has the same tools; they only differ in
the utilities that are available with the desktop once you enter the windowing
environment. The available distributions come in either a 32-bit or 64-bit distribution;
most users will be fine with 32-bit distributions. The main consideration is the amount
of random accessory memory (RAM) you will have available for the installation. If you
can allocate more than 4 GB of RAM, you can choose the 64-bit distribution; if not then
go with the 32-bit option. BackTrack will work with as little as 1 GB of RAM, but the
tools you use within it might need more, so 2 GB or more is recommended.
An important point to note is that you should always verify the image files
of anything you download. That is why there is an MD5 hash for each of the
downloads. If you do not know how to do this, you can do a search for it on the
Internet. There are a number of tools that can be downloaded to assist you with
verifying the hash of a file.
The ISO file allows you to take the image and burn it to a DVD, allowing you to boot
from the image and run BackTrack from the DVD. Alternatively, you can also mount
the image using a virtualization tool and boot it that way.
For our purposes, we will use the virtual machine, as it is easy to use and has been
configured with the tools; this allows you to copy and paste within the VM and have
a full screen virtual environment. We will also include steps later in the chapter for
booting the ISO image in VMware Workstation, as that will result in the identical
interface that will be experienced when booting from a DVD image. VMware
Workstation was one of the first virtual environment software products and allows
us to run multiple computers on one machine.
BackTrack can be downloaded from its official website at Once you go to the website, you will see that there is a
registration request there; this is optional, and downloading the distribution is not
required. On the Downloads page, you will see a drop-down window that you will
use to select the version of the distribution that you want to download. Once you
click on the drop-down window, the other windows will be populated as displayed
in the next screenshot:
Chapter 1
We will be using the BackTrack 5 R3 distribution with the window manager Gnome
(32-bit) and the VMware image installation for the book; download the image, and
then we will continue with the installation.
Installing BackTrack
Once you have downloaded the image, you will need to have certain VMware
software to run the image; you can get the software from VMware
Player is smaller with fewer options, although VMware Workstation contains many
features. Both versions have a trial version available, and it is recommended that you
select one and try it out. For this book, we are using VMware Workstation Version 9
as that is the latest version as of this writing. To access the software downloads page,
go to VMware
software allows you to perform many functions in a virtual environment, and this
can be an additional security measure for you. If you are using a Mac, you will need
to download VMware Fusion for that; refer to
fusion/overview.html. Also, if you want to use the ISO image to create a DVD and
boot from that, you can do that too. The way in which we start BackTrack is the only
thing that differs from the other distributions; once they start, they all require the
same number of steps to be configured and used.
Installing and Configuring BackTrack
You may also want to note here that there are more virtualization products than
VMware, and if you want to try others, you may; some of the popular, free ones are:
• VirtualBox –
• Xen –
• Hyper-V –
Hyper-V requires you to have either Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2012
installed. There are two reasons why we are using VMware Workstation in this book:
• It has fantastic documentation and support
• The image from BackTrack has the tools installed, and this makes for much
better user experience
As always, software is a matter of personal preference and taste, so try different
versions and see which one works best for you.
The procedure for starting the tool once you have downloaded the virtual machine
is pretty straightforward. Open the image in the virtual machine tool you are using
and check the settings. You should see a screen similar to the one shown in the next
screenshot. You want to check that there is a network adapter present, and that the
RAM is set to a value that you can support on your host machine. As a reminder,
2 GB of RAM is recommended. An example is shown in the next image where the
RAM is not sufficient and would need to be changed; you do this by clicking on
Edit virtual machine settings. Once you have configured this, click on Power on
this virtual machine. If you are prompted before the VM boots up, leave the default
settings, as they are and let the machine boot.
Chapter 1
Once the machine has booted, you will need to log in with root as the ID and a
password of toor (root in reverse). This will bring you to the shell interface of
BackTrack. We want to start up the windowing environment, but before we do that,
we want to check and verify that our network has started. Enter ifconfig; you
should see a result similar to in the next screenshot:
In some versions of the BackTrack distribution, you might not have an interface
named eth1. If you only have the lo (loopback) interface, you have to start the
network; the way to do this is by using /etc/init.d/networking start.
This will start your network.
[email protected]:~# /etc/init.d/networking start
To avoid having to do this the next time you start BackTrack, enter the update-rc.d
networking defaults command. This will change the configuration, and each time
you start BackTrack, the network will be started for you.
[email protected]:~# update-rc.d networking defaults
There is a possibility that when you restart, you will not get a network address;
this is rare with the latest software, but just in case, you might want to enter the
ifconfig command again.
[email protected]:~# ifconfig
If you are not connected to the network, that is, if you don't have an IP address,
you can enter dhclient.
[email protected]:~# dhclient
Installing and Configuring BackTrack
Next, you want to start the XWindows environment; you do this by entering the
startx command in the command shell.
[email protected]:~# startx
This will start the XWindows Gnome desktop. Once the window comes up, the first
thing you want to do is to open a shell on your desktop. You can accomplish this by
going to Applications | Accessories | Terminal. The next thing you want to do is to
fix your display within the virtual environment inw the VMware Workstation menu
at the top of the screen. Navigate to View | Fit Guest Now to correct the display;
your screen should now be in fullscreen mode, as shown in the following screenshot:
Next, you want to change the password from the default value of toor, which is not
a strong password. And to be honest, everyone knows it; so let us change it now. In
your command shell terminal window, enter passwd.
[email protected]:~# passwd
[ 10 ]
Chapter 1
This will start the password change process. Enter a password of your choice; it will
not echo on the screen as you type it in, and you will be requested to re-enter your
password to confirm it. Make sure you do not forget your password, as it can be a
challenge to recover it; it is not impossible, but it is a challenge nonetheless and is
beyond the scope of this book.
As you can see from the previous screenshot, there is a transparent background
in the shell. There is a simple procedure to customize your shell, and we will do
that now. I prefer to have a white background with black text, which we will now
configure. In the title of the terminal window, navigate to Edit | Profile Preferences.
Once the window opens, you want to click on Background; this is where you will
set the transparency of the shell window. My preference is to have no transparency,
click on Transparent Background, then drag the slider to the right and set it to
Maximum as shown in the next screenshot:
[ 11 ]
Installing and Configuring BackTrack
The next thing we will set is the actual colors of the terminal windows. We do this
by clicking on Colors and then setting the colors for the terminal as identified in the
following screenshot:
Once you have set the colors and transparency for the terminal, you should have
a shell with the colors that you prefer and customized in your profile, so that each
time you open a terminal window it will be configured to your preferences.
Updating BackTrack
Now that we have set up the basics on our BackTrack machine, we want to update
the tool and make sure that it is current. The developers of BackTrack have instituted
an update capability using the apt-get utility. The first thing we want to do is to
update the package. This requires a working Internet connection on your host; verify
this by opening a web browser window and accessing a website. Once you have
verified that you are connected to the Internet, go back to the BackTrack machine
and enter the apt-get update command in a terminal window.
[email protected]:~# apt-get update
[ 12 ]
Chapter 1
Once you have entered the command, you should see a display similar to the one
shown in the next screenshot:
Once the update has finished, there should be a message saying that the update
was successful. Once the update is complete, the next thing to do is to upgrade the
distribution itself; we do that also with the apt-get command. Enter apt-get distupgrade in the terminal window.
[email protected]:~# apt-get dist-upgrade
The output of this command should be similar to the one in the following screenshot:
The output indicates the packages that are available and will be upgraded. Once
you have reviewed them, you are ready to do the upgrade; enter Y to start the
upgrade. Once the upgrade has finished, you are done with the main updates
and upgrades for BackTrack.
[ 13 ]
Installing and Configuring BackTrack
Validating the interfaces
There is one more thing we want to correct when it comes to our network, because
there is a problem with the allocation of the interfaces at boot time when you make
copies of a Linux virtual machine. If you enter ifconfig and your interface does not
say eth0, you should correct the network.
[email protected]:~# ifconfig
We do this by opening the configuration file and removing all references to the
network interfaces that are there. In your shell, enter gedit.
[email protected]:~# gedit
This will open the graphical editor that is contained within the Gnome distribution.
In the editor, navigate to File | Open; when the window opens, navigate to the
configuration file that is located at /etc/udev/rules.d/. To navigate to the folder,
click on the File System folder in the window. This will put you in the root of the
file system; then, it is only a matter of drilling down until you get into the rules.d
folder. Select and open the 70-persistent-net.rules file. Once you are in the
file, delete the old interfaces that are there; highlight the line that starts with # PCI
Device and all the lines after that right up to the end of the file, and then delete
them as shown in the next screenshot:
[ 14 ]
Chapter 1
Once you have deleted the interface references, save the file, and quit the program.
Click on Save and then Quit. This will return you to the terminal window and your
shell. Now, enter reboot and let the machine reboot and regenerate your interfaces.
Once the machine reboots, log in to the machine with the username root and
whatever password you set earlier (you do remember it, right?). Once you are
logged in, start XWindows by entering the startx command.
[email protected]:~# startx
Once XWindows has started, open the terminal window by using the shortcut on
the toolbar or by navigating to Applications | Accessories | Terminal. If you have
not done so already, correct your display by navigating to Edit | Fit Guest Now in
VMware Workstation.
We now want to check and verify that our network interfaces are correct; we do this
by using our ifconfig command. Enter ifconfig in the terminal window. As we
have removed the extra information that was in the 70-persistent-net.rules file,
we should now see that our interface is eth0 and not something else; this is shown
in the next screenshot. For some reason, when you copy virtual machines, there is a
possibility that the programmer did an append to the file and did not overwrite the
entries that are in the file; if you make three or four copies of the virtual machine, it
will show eth5 or eth6. Again, we will have to correct it by deleting the entries that
are in the 70-persistent-net.rules file. This is the same process for many of the
Linux virtual machines when you copy them.
[ 15 ]
Installing and Configuring BackTrack
Customizing Gnome
We now have a working, functional, and updated instance BackTrack. Remember
to update and upgrade the tool often. We are using the Gnome desktop, we will
now discuss some of the methods of customizing the Gnome desktop to suit our
tastes. You can skip this section if you are happy with the default desktop or if
you have configured Gnome before. For those of you who want to personalize
and change the dark look of the Gnome desktop, this section is for you.
There are three main areas we will consider when customizing the Gnome desktop.
They are:
• Background
• Theme
• Fonts
To change your background, navigate to System | Preferences | Appearance |
Background. As you can see, there are not many background types stored by default,
so click on Get more backgrounds online. You now have many backgrounds to
choose from. I like to visit island locations, so I am going to select the Fakarava
Coconut Tree background. Once you have selected your background, right-click
on it and select Set as Desktop Background. You will notice that when you open
it, the image does not occupy the entire screen; to make the image fullscreen, select
the drop-down menu item stretch, or select tile to have multiple copies of the image
displayed on the desktop. The resolution can present challenges, so use tile if the
resolution does not match the Gnome settings on your machine. After you have
finished configuring the settings, click on Set as Desktop Background. The next
screenshot shows my desktop with the tile setting displayed:
[ 16 ]
Chapter 1
The next thing we want to customize is our theme; we do this the same
way we customized the background. Navigate to System | Preferences |
Appearance | Theme.
This time, we have three themes to choose from instead of the two stock
backgrounds; we also have the option to get more themes online, but for our
purposes, the New Wave option is the one we will use. Click on New Wave,
and then click on Close. If you refer to the next screenshot, we now have less
of a "dark" look to our menu items. Again, this is largely a matter of personal
preference, and you should experiment with the different options and select
the one that works for you.
New wave theme
Now it is time to look at changing the fonts for our desktop. We access the font
setting by navigating to System | Preferences | Appearance | Fonts. As you can
see, there are many fonts from which to choose; again, it is a matter of personal
preference and taste. The options are shown in the following screenshot:
[ 17 ]
Installing and Configuring BackTrack
Creating a virtual machine
Before we wrap up this chapter, I am sure some of the readers would like to create
their own virtual machine or even boot from a DVD. This section has been included
for them. I am also one of those who would choose to create their own virtual
machine rather than download a prebuilt one. As you will discover, when you take
this route, it works well until you attempt to install tools within the virtual machine.
As of this writing, there is no easy procedure for this, and it takes quite a lot of time
to accomplish it using the current methods that are available.
To get started, the first thing we have to do is to create a virtual machine. For this, we
use the virtual machine wizard within VMware Workstation by navigating to File |
New Virtual Machine. This will start the virtual machine wizard; leave the default
setting of Typical, and click on Next. On the next window, we want to direct the
wizard to our ISO image. So, click on the Installer disc image file (the ISO file), and
then browse to the location and select the ISO image you downloaded for BackTrack,
as shown in the following screenshot:
Once you have selected the ISO image, you will notice that the wizard cannot detect
the operating system; we will have to specify it. This is normal behavior and nothing
to be alarmed about; after reading the message, click on Next.
[ 18 ]
Chapter 1
The operating system selection should be set to Linux by default. You just need to
select the type of Linux operating system by clicking on the drop-down arrow and
selecting the Ubuntu option since this is what the Black Hat distribution is based.
Once you click on Next, you will have the option to name your virtual machine and
the location to store it in. If you would like to change the name, this is the place to
do that. Once you have set the name and location you want to use, click on Next.
Leave the size and other settings at their default values, and click on Next. On the
next screen, you have a chance to review your hardware settings, and if need be,
to customize them. If you are comfortable with the default RAM of 1 GB, click on
Finish. The following screenshot shows what your hardware should look like:
Once you click on Finish, the wizard will boot the virtual machine. Since we have
configured it to use the ISO image, it will boot from there. At the prompt, click
anywhere on the black area and then press Enter to boot BackTrack. Once the OS
has booted, you will be automatically logged in; for reference, remember that
the username is root and the password is toor, and you should change it after
[ 19 ]
Installing and Configuring BackTrack
If you want to verify your network settings, enter ifconfig; as you will see,
the interface is properly set at eth0 since we booted this from the ISO image
and did not copy it. This is reflected in the following screenshot:
In the command prompt, enter startx to launch the desktop and window
[email protected]:~# startx
Once the desktop has started, you will notice that you now have an icon on the
desktop for installing the OS to the hard disk. If you are in a virtual environment,
that is the recommended next step.
To install BackTrack to the hard disk, there is a series of steps to be followed:
1. Click on the Install BackTrack icon, and start the installation process.
2. When a window comes up, select the language for the install, and click
on Forward.
3. If you are happy with what the installation wizard finds for the time
zone and the current time, click on Forward.
4. Select your preferred keyboard layout, and click on Forward.
[ 20 ]
Chapter 1
At this point, you are at the "prepare the hard disk for installation" stage; make sure
you are in a virtual machine and not a bootable DVD, because this will erase the
hard drive! If you are not sure, do not proceed until you are. If you want to make
sure, refer to the next screenshot and notice that the message This computer has no
operating systems on it. is identified:
Now that we have covered that and you have verified that you are not going to
destroy your system, click on Forward.
The installation is now ready to start; this is your last chance to ensure you do not
erase your hard drive. If you are comfortable with this, click on Install. After some
time, the installation will successfully complete (hopefully), and you will see a
message like the one in the following screenshot:
[ 21 ]
Installing and Configuring BackTrack
After the installation is complete, you will notice that you cannot adjust the display
by selecting the Fit Guest Now option because it is grayed out; this is because
you do not have the VMware tools installed. You can manually install the tools,
but it is not a simple and straightforward procedure. Those who want to try it can
access the step-by-step instructions at
index.php/VMware_Tools. Again, this process requires updating the kernel and
then rebuilding it. The procedure does work, but it is a time-consuming process;
only attempt it if you want to go through a challenging process and have a couple
of hours to spare. The majority of you will prefer to download the virtual machine
that is preconfigured and offered on the BackTrack distribution site.
Downloading the example code
You can download the example code files for all
Packt books you have purchased from your account
at If you purchased
this book elsewhere, you can visit http://www. and register to have the files
e-mailed directly to you.
In this chapter we covered a little bit of the history of BackTrack and discussed
the different types of installation options. After installing the operating system,
we configured it and corrected a virtualization anomaly that caused the interfaces
to not be correctly identified. We also covered some standard configuration
changes that you can make to your BackTrack desktop to personalize your
install. The chapter concluded with how to use the ISO image to create your
own virtual machine and customize it and also how to install it to the hard disk.
You should have BackTrack working and configured before we proceed to the
next chapter and discuss and select a wireless card for our tools.
[ 22 ]
Working with the
Wireless Card
In this chapter, we are going to look at the following topics with respect to
using BackTrack:
• Checking card compatibility
• Detecting the wireless card during the boot process
• Detecting the wireless card using iwconfig
• Wireless card modes
• Protocol analysis with the wireless card
Now that we have a configured and updated BackTrack, it is time to turn our
attention to working with our wireless card. Unfortunately, with the Linux
operating system, this is not as straightforward as we would hope. The work
that will need to be done depends on a number of factors. Out of all of the
factors, the most important one is that Linux goes by the chipset of the card.
Checking card compatibility
There are a number of factors to consider when we work with a wireless card in
Linux, and the most important one is to know what the chipset of our wireless
card is. This is because we have to know whether we have a driver to support the
card, and it takes work to determine what that chipset is. The challenging cards
are normally the ones that are built into laptops; in most cases, this card will not
work in BackTrack without doing some work and spending some time on it.
Working with the Wireless Card
The first place to look for information, whether or not your card will work, is on the
BackTrack website. There is a listing of supported cards on the BackTrack website at The site
is shown in the next screenshot:
Getting a wireless card to work can be a challenging process, and it is often
time-consuming. However, there are times when you do get lucky and the card is
recognized at boot, but more often than not, it takes additional work. When we use
virtualization, it is rare for the card to be recognized at boot; this is especially the case
with BackTrack. It is not impossible, but we still go through the steps to verify whether
there is more work to do. If, however, you are using the boot DVD or another method
without the virtual machine, there is a slight chance that your built-in card has been
recognized, but again, there is just a chance, so that is why we go through the process.
If you have not already done so, start up your BackTrack machine. Once it starts up,
log in with the username root, and the password should be whatever you configured
it to be. As a reminder, the password is toor if you are using a default configuration.
After you log in, start the windowing environment by entering startx.
[email protected]:~# startx
This should place you in the windowing environment. Your screen should look
similar to the one shown in the following screenshot:
[ 24 ]
Chapter 2
Detecting the wireless card during the
boot process
Now that we have the Gnome desktop started, the next thing we will do is open a
terminal window. You can do this by clicking on the shortcut icon, or go the long
way by navigating to Application | Accessories | Terminal. The result is that a
terminal window opens. In this terminal window, enter the dmesg command.
[email protected]:~# dmesg
The result of this command will make you scroll your screen a lot. The dmesg
command displays the contents of the ring buffer. Do not worry if you do not
know what a buffer is, just think of it as a place used to store data. This ring buffer
that is displayed contains the messages that the system displays as it reads and
encounters the hardware and devices of your machine. To scroll up and view this
would be a bit of a challenge, but the one thing to remember about Linux is that
they have devised ways for us to do this much more efficiently. The first method
we will look at is the more option; enter the following in the terminal window:
[email protected]:~# dmesg | more
[ 25 ]
Working with the Wireless Card
This command will display the data from the output one page at a time. To go to the
next page, press the Space bar, and to go line-by-line, use the Enter key. The more
command, used with dmesg, is shown in the next screenshot:
Again, this is probably not the best option, so we will look at option two.
Option number two is to use the less command by entering the following
into the terminal window:
[email protected]:~# dmesg | less
The saying that we use in Linux, "less is more", is because unlike the more command
in which the text scrolls on as you go through it, the less command allows you to
use the Page Up, Page Down, and arrow keys without having the page scroll away
from you! This is why less really is more.
We still have the challenge of looking through all of this ring buffer stuff to find our
wireless card, even if it is there. Fortunately, we have another option that is even
better than the other two! We will explore this now. Rather than looking through
the output line-by-line, we can use a powerful utility named grep. The grep tool is
an essential one within the Linux toolset that is used extensively when searching
for a string.
[ 26 ]
Chapter 2
The grep tool will search a file for the specified string, and then display the
corresponding line(s) containing that string. With respect to dmesg and the
message for which we are looking, we search for the following two components:
• wireless
• wlan0
The grep search queries for these two strings, as shown in the next screenshot:
If you have not already done so, enter these two commands, and see if your output
matches what is displayed in the previous screenshot. Unfortunately, in most cases,
this is what you will see; this means that during the boot process, the wireless device
was not detected. There are a number of things we can do to see if we can get the
card recognized after the boot, and we will do that in a moment.
Detecting the wireless card using
The next thing we want to do is to look at the iwconfig tool. In your terminal
window, enter iwconfig:
[email protected]:~# iwconfig
[ 27 ]
Working with the Wireless Card
A sample output of this command is shown in the following screenshot; it shows
that there are no wireless cards currently recognized on this machine.
At this time, you are probably wondering what we have to do to get the
card recognized? Unfortunately, if the card is not one among those that are
recommended, it can become a daunting task. So, we will try a few more things
before we reveal the guaranteed way to get a wireless card that we know will
work within the BackTrack distribution.
When you are in a virtual environment, you can see whether the device is listed
or just not connected. We do this by clicking on Removable Devices under the VM
menu. This will bring up a list of removable devices found on the machine, which
is displayed in the following screenshot:
[ 28 ]
Chapter 2
The process now is to connect each device by selecting the available wireless card in
the host OS, and then use the iwconfig command again, and see if you get lucky;
if you do, then that's it! It is more than likely that you will not get lucky with this
method. So, in reality, the best solution is to purchase a wireless card that will work
with BackTrack, and more importantly, support the features that you will need with
the tools. There are two that I highly recommend, both of which are inexpensive.
They are the following:
• Wi-Fire (
• Alpha AWUS036H (
Both of these cards are USB, which means they should work as soon as you put them
in; also, as already mentioned, they are inexpensive. The Alpha card will give you
1000 mW of power, which is the highest transmission on signal power that is allowed
by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC regulates interstate and
international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable in the U.S.
and U.S. territories. Other countries may have different regulations.
Configuring the wireless card
I am sure there are some of you who still want to try and get your card working,
so we have a few more steps you can try, and we will cover them now. Having said
that, it is highly recommended that you use one of the two cards mentioned earlier.
The next thing to try is the airmon-ng command. There is very little chance that your
card will be here when it is nowhere else, but we can never say never, because this is
electronics! In your terminal window, enter airmon-ng., using the following command:
[email protected]:~# airmon-ng
The output of this command is shown in the next screenshot:
[ 29 ]
Working with the Wireless Card
Once again we have failed! The card is not recognized, so now it is a matter of
searching the Internet and trying to find a fix to get your card working. One
alternative is to use any external card you may have. If you have an external
card, plug it in and go through the same steps as before. There are two places
to go to try and read more about getting your card operational. They are and Once again, it is highly
recommended that you purchase one of the USB wireless cards mentioned
previously. It will save you a lot of time and stress, because even a direct PCI
card may not be detected even if the card is supported. A simple search on the
Internet can also provide more information when you are having difficulties.
If you have a recognized card or a USB external card, there are several steps to
follow to identify the card. For the purposes of this book, the card that is being used
is the Wi-Fire card from hField Technologies. The first thing that you need to do
is insert the card into the USB port of the computer. Depending on the setup, you
may or may not connect to it on the virtual machine. To get the card recognized
in BackTrack, we have to connect to it using the VM configuration. We do this by
clicking on Removable Devices under the VM menu and looking for the card listed
there. The example in the next screenshot shows that the Wi-Fire card is showing up
as Z-Com USB Device. If you are using another card, it is a matter of trial and error
to determine what it is called, unless you get lucky and the card has a recognizable
name (which is rare).
Once you have identified your card, click on Connect (Disconnect from Host).
After you have connected, you should see if the dmesg command can see the card.
In your terminal window, enter the following command:
[email protected]:~# dmesg | grep wlan0
[ 30 ]
Chapter 2
Hopefully, you will see something similar to what is shown in the next screenshot:
If you do not see any indication of wlan0, you can reboot the system and see
whether it recognizes the card after the reboot. As a reminder, to reboot the system,
enter reboot in a terminal window:
[email protected]:~# reboot
Now that you have the wlan0 device listed in the output of dmesg, you need to start
up the wireless card; before you do that, enter the following command into
a terminal window:
[email protected]:~# iwconfig
You should now see that there is an adaptor that has wireless extensions. The next
screenshot shows that the wlan0 interface has wireless extensions:
[ 31 ]
Working with the Wireless Card
Finally we have a wireless card that is in BackTrack and is recognized! This, as you
have discovered, is no small feat. Let us now review some of the specifications of
what we are examining here. The device is wlan0, it supports 802.11 b/g, and as
of now, it is not associated with any ESSID (Extended Service Set Identification).
The mode that the card is in is called Managed, which we will discuss later. The
power is set at 20 dBm. For most of you, this is probably not how you understand
power measurement; this is because most of us think of power in terms of milliwatts
(mW) when it comes to wireless devices. For those of you who would like to know
the math, dBm is decibel-milliwatt, and is the electrical power unit in decibels (dB)
referenced to 1 milliwatt (mW). The formula is as follows:
• The power in decibel-milliwatts is equal to the base 10 logarithm of the
power in milliwatts (P(mW))
P(dBm) = 10 log10( P(mW) / 1mW)
• The power in milliwatts (P(mW)) is equal to 10 raised by the power in decibel
milliwatts, P(dBm), divided by 10
P(mW) = 10(P(dBm)/10)
For most of us, this is way too much to think about. For that, there is a table that we
can use as a reference, which is as follows:
Power (dBm)
Power (dBW)
Power (watt)
Power (mW)
20 dBm
-10 dBW
100 mW
100 mW
30 dBm
0 dBW
1000 mW
From the table, you can see that 20 dBm is equivalent to 100mW, and that is the
default setting currently on wlan0. We can of course change this, but for now, we
will leave it as it is. It is also important to note that the maximum power you can
legally transmit is 1 Watt or 1000 mW in the U.S.; if you refer to the table, you can
see that it is equivalent to 30 dBm.
Now that we have the particulars out of the way, we can bring up our network card.
We do this using the versatile ifconfig command. Enter ifconfig wlan0 up in the
terminal window:
[email protected]:~# ifconfig wlan0 up
The command should complete and not provide any feedback (you will not see any
output, just the command prompt window) but the card has started. You can verify
this by repeating our ifconfig command:
[email protected]:~# ifconfig
[ 32 ]
Chapter 2
The output of the command with the card up and working is shown in the
next screenshot:
As you refer to the previous screenshot, notice that lo and wlan0 represent names of
the network interfaces on the machine, with lo referring to the loopback address and
wlan0 referring to the wireless card. You can see that lo has an INET address. This
is because lo is configured as on the machine. The wlan0 card does not
have this line because an address has not been assigned.
Wireless card modes
At this point, it is important that we establish what we want to accomplish with the
BackTrack tool. We really are not interested in using the wireless card to connect to
an access point, because what we want to do is to use the card differently. When you
connect a wireless card to an access point, you are using one of the modes of the card.
That mode is the managed mode, which is the mode that the card is in, as shown
earlier. When you want to analyze network traffic (or "sniff", as it is commonly referred
to), you put the card in a promiscuous mode. With our wireless cards, we do not call
the mode promiscuous; we instead call it the monitor mode. The best way to put a card
into the monitor mode is to use a tool, and we will do that in a moment. First off, we
will see how to use the BackTrack card to connect to the network, just in case at times
you want to be able to do this.
[ 33 ]
Working with the Wireless Card
The tool we will use now is the one that is GUI-based. We could do the entire
configuration without using the GUI, but as our main focus is analyzing the traffic,
we will stick with the GUI for this one time. The tool we are going to use is the
Wicd Network Manager. We can access this tool from the desktop menu by going
to Applications | Internet | Wicd Network Manager. This should open the tool,
and you should see a window similar to the one shown in the next screenshot:
Oh no! We still do not have a wireless network. What are we going to do? Why is this
so complicated? Before you panic, let us look at the reason why no wireless networks
are found. Remember, we knew that our wireless card was on because
we verified it from the command line. This is the catch with these things; we should
verify them on the command line first and then work with the GUI. The way to look
at this is, the GUI is not really that intelligent because it is going to reflect whatever
the programmer has set up by default. We do not have this problem on the command
line because we are controlling the actual lowest level of the device.
[ 34 ]
Chapter 2
With a GUI, this may or may not be the case, depending on what the programmers
were thinking when they wrote the code. Coming from a programming background,
I can honestly say that most programmers just try to get the code to work and meet
the objectives of the specification, and they cannot determine what is in the user's
mind. The first thing you see when you look at the window is that it is based on a
profile, and that the default profile is wired; so there is a possibility that this profile
does not include the wireless information that we need. Let us now look deeper
into this. Click on Preferences. This will open the window that allows us to set
preferences, and it is displayed in the next screenshot:
See! All our panic was for nothing, because the configuration in the default state
does not have a wireless interface listed. So if we put the wireless interface in,
maybe this will work! Unfortunately, "maybe" does not cut it when it comes to
wireless in BackTrack, so what we will do is we will verify it! Remember, we
verify all assumptions when it comes to security!
[ 35 ]
Working with the Wireless Card
Enter wlan0 in the box for Wireless interface: as shown in the following screenshot:
It should be obvious, but we will state it here just to make sure; if you have another
name for the interface, then you should enter whatever the interface is called instead
of entering wlan0. To check, you can identify the name of the interface using the
ifconfig command. Once you have entered the necessary information, click on OK.
At this point, we want to save our settings, and we will do this now by clicking on
the Add button. Enter the name wireless for your profile, and click on OK. You will
notice that we still do not have any wireless networks showing. We need to click on
the Refresh button, and then the tool should scan and look for our wireless networks.
An example of this is shown in the following screenshot:
[ 36 ]
Chapter 2
Protocol analysis with the network card
It is disturbing that we continue to see networks using the Wired Equivalent Privacy
(WEP) algorithm. We will get into the weaknesses of WEP and show how easy it is
to obtain the WEP key for an attacker and also for you if you are working with your
own network or have written the authorization to test someone else's network. There
is absolutely no reason you or anyone else should be using WEP to protect a wireless
network. Now that you know how to get your card to work, you can click on a
network and connect to it if you like by clicking on the Connect button. An example
of a connection to the WoodTigerLili network is shown in the following screenshot:
Once we are connected, we can treat this like any other wireless connection.
You can verify that it is connected by entering the ifconfig wlan0 command
in a terminal window:
[email protected]:~# ifconfig wlan0
[ 37 ]
Working with the Wireless Card
The output of a connected adapter is shown in the next screenshot:
As you may have noticed, this is just showing us the IP address and network
information, like any other card. Wouldn't it be better to see the actual wireless
information? Fortunately, we have a command for this as we do for most of the
things we want to do. Enter the following command to see the information on
the wireless network:
[email protected]:~# iwconfig wlan0
A sample of the output from this command is shown in the next screenshot:
Earlier, we discussed that there are a number of modes when it comes to a wireless
card. There are only two that are of concern to us, and they are as follows:
• Managed
The mode for connecting to an access point
[ 38 ]
Chapter 2
• Monitor
The mode for "sniffing" network data
Once you are in the managed mode on a network card in Linux, you cannot see the
wireless network traffic; this is why we use an external card in addition to the card
that we have on our machine. The reason for this is we want to be able to analyze
our wireless traffic using the powerful tools that are contained within the BackTrack
distribution. So, for our purposes, we will not be connecting to our wireless card
within BackTrack; we will leave the card in the monitor mode for using our tools.
We will now verify that we are only able to see the Ethernet (802.3) data when we are
connected, and not the wireless (802.11) traffic, which is what we want to be able to
use once we unleash the powerful tools of BackTrack. What this means is with 802.3
traffic, you will see the normal web traffic and other normal network information;
with 802.11 traffic, you will see the wireless data that is used to communicate
over wireless networks. To view network packets, we will turn to a very powerful
protocol analyzer tool that is not only available in BackTrack but also available for
Windows and is free! The tool we will use is named Wireshark (www.wireshark.
org). Wireshark is a powerful protocol analyzer that allows us to look at the network
traffic. We can access the tool in BackTrack by going to Applications | BackTrack
| Information Gathering | Network Analysis | Network Traffic Analysis |
Wireshark. An example of this is shown in the next screenshot:
[ 39 ]
Working with the Wireless Card
Once you have done this, you will see the application open, after which you will be in
the main window. Once you are in the main window, you should see an area on the
left-hand side of the screen that provides a listing of the interfaces that are available on
the machine. As we have done before, we want to use the interface that is used for our
wireless connection, wlan0. If you get a window that pops up and displays a warning
that you are running as the root user, click on OK to acknowledge the message, and
then click and place a checkmark in the Don't show this message again checkbox.
An example of the Wireshark main window is shown in the following screenshot:
Select the wlan0 interface, and click on Start. You should now be ready to capture
some packets. As what you are capturing depends on your settings, you may or may
not be seeing traffic; so in either case, it is a simple matter of generating some traffic.
In your BackTrack tool, go to Applications | Accessories | Terminal and open a
terminal window. When the window opens, enter ifconfig and determine what
network your wlan0 interface is on.
[email protected]:~# ifconfig
This will be indicated by the INET address, which is the IP address of your wireless
network card. Once you have discovered this, you just want to enter ping <ip
address of the network>. If you are in a virtual machine, the host machine is
usually the first node. The following screenshot shows a ping to the host machine
from the BackTrack machine:
[ 40 ]
Chapter 2
We should now be able to see the data that Wireshark captured. Note that if you
do not add the –c option to your ping request, it will ping forever—well not really
forever—but it will not stop without intervention and you will have to stop it by
pressing Ctrl + C. In case you are not aware of this key combination, it will get
you out of virtually every program that is running in Linux. In your Wireshark
application, click on Stop under Capture. You should see your ICMP packet
information as shown in the following screenshot:
[ 41 ]
Working with the Wireless Card
This concludes the chapter. In this chapter, we got to experiment with getting your
wireless card working in BackTrack; as you discovered, it is no small task. We also saw
the recommendation that you make a small investment and get one of the cards that is
supported by BackTrack. We saw two USB cards, Wi-Fire and Alpha. Either of these
cards will allow you to use the full power of the BackTrack tools. In the next chapter,
we will look at how to use the tools to explore the wireless zones around you.
[ 42 ]
Surveying Your
Wireless Zone
In this chapter, we are going to look at the following with respect to using Backtrack:
• Exploring devices
• Using Kismet
• Working with different tools
• Discovering access points
We should now have a working wireless card that will allow us to start using the
powerful tools within Backtrack, which will in turn allow us to survey our wireless
zones. When we refer to surveying the wireless zones, we mean looking at the
strength of the signal and the channel that the access point is using, along with the
security that is set on the access point.
We now want to start up our Backtrack machine, log in to it with a username of root
and a password that you have set; if you are still using the default password, it is
Once the Backtrack tool has started, we want to start the window environment;
as a quick reminder, enter startx:
[email protected]:~# startx
Once the window environment comes up, we want to verify that our network
card is recognized in the Backtrack tool. Open a terminal window by going to
Applications | Accessories | Terminal.
Surveying Your Wireless Zone
In the terminal window, enter the following command:
[email protected]:~# iwconfig
This should result in the output you see in the next screenshot if your wireless card
is active and recognized by Backtrack:
If your card is not recognized, that is, you are not able to see wlan0, refer to the
procedures and techniques we used in the previous chapter to get your card working.
Exploring devices
The next thing we want to do is explore the wireless networks that are around us.
The first tool we will use within BackTrack is not actually a hacking tool, but it does
work for surveying the networks around us and identifying our wireless zone.
Navigate to Applications | Internet | Wicd Network Manager.
This will open the tool; if you get a bus error, click on OK. The tool should open
and present a window similar to the one shown in the next screenshot:
[ 44 ]
Chapter 3
As you can see, the Wicd Network Manager does provide the channel and additional
information about the card, so before we go further, we need to discuss what the
channels are. In wireless, we have a particular frequency on which the signal is
propagated; if everyone is on the same frequency, the result is saturation. So to
avoid that, we use different channels for separation and to not overload or saturate
a channel. You are probably wondering what channel you should use. Well, this
can be a complicated question. This is why we are using this chapter to see how to
survey a wireless zone. If everyone is on the same channel near you, it can lead to a
degradation in the performance of your wireless network.
A bit about channels—there are a number of channels that are available, which
change depending on the version of the 802.11 standard that you are using; so rather
than try and explain it here, the Wikipedia site has a good definition on the different
channels and which countries use what channels, and you can find that information
[ 45 ]
Surveying Your Wireless Zone
The next thing we want to do is explore the access point information further,
so click on the Information tab (under Properties) of one of the wireless networks
that are displayed in the tool. An example of this is provided in the next screenshot:
From the screenshot, you can see that the signal strength of the WoodTigerLili access
point is at 68%, it is using the WPA2 encryption scheme, and it is on Channel 11. In
fact, in this example, all of the discovered access points are using WPA2, which is a
good thing with respect to security.
As you may recall from earlier, we have to put the card in promiscuous mode, and
the mode we are currently in is the monitor mode of the card. To do this, we use the
airmon-ng tool. In a terminal window, enter the following command:
[email protected]:~# airmon-ng start <network interface>
This command will start the monitor mode on the interface that has the wireless
card. In this example, it is on wlan0. If your card is on another interface, you need to
enter that for the command. Once you have entered the command, you should have
an output similar to the one shown in the following screenshot:
[ 46 ]
Chapter 3
From the output of the command, you can see that the card is in monitor mode;
this is now reflected as interface mon0. We will, from this point onwards, use the
mon0 interface when we want to process data from the card.
The first command-line tool we will look at is the ssidsniff tool. Go to
Applications | Backtrack | Information Gathering | Wireless Analysis | WLAN
Analysis | ssidsniff.
In the window that opens, enter the following command:
[email protected]:~# ssidsniff –i mon0
The –i refers to the interface to which to bind; in this case, it is mon0, which
represents the interface name. This should open the tool, and it will scan and display
the networks as it sees them. An example of this is shown in the next screenshot:
[ 47 ]
Surveying Your Wireless Zone
You can use your arrow keys to go through the list; once you have selected a
particular SSID, you can explore further by pressing the Enter key. The result of
this will be another window that shows additional details about the access point.
An example of this is provided in the following screenshot:
The tool shows you information about the access point and also the machines that
are connected to the access point at this time. If you press the D key, any strings that
are discovered within the packets will be displayed. Of course, this will not show
anything if all of the packets are encrypted.
You can sort the access points in a number of ways. By pressing the O key, you can
select the field on which to sort; for example, press C if you want to sort by channel.
A list that is channel-sorted is shown in the following screenshot:
[ 48 ]
Chapter 3
There are quite a few options with which we can experiment in this tool, but we
want to look at some more tools. As always, you are encouraged to explore beyond
what we have done in the book.
Working with tools
The next tool we want to work with is the airodump-ng tool. This is another
powerful tool with many features that is available within Backtrack. We will look
at this tool in more detail in the next chapter, but for now we will use it within
the context of surveying our wireless zone. Go to Applications | Backtrack |
Information Gathering | Wireless Analysis | WLAN Analysis | airodump-ng.
Once the window opens, enter the following command:
[email protected]:~# airodump-ng mon0
This should result in a window that will display information about the access
points that are being detected by the card. An example of this is shown in the
next screenshot:
[ 49 ]
Surveying Your Wireless Zone
As you can see from the screenshot, the output is similar to that of the ssidsniff
tool. One of the features that airodump-ng has is, it can be used with a Global
Positioning System (GPS) receiver; it will then display the coordinates of the
discovered access points. In the previous screenshot, all of the access points that have
been discovered are open, as shown below the ENC field. As such, we do not get to
see the encrypted data that is shown by the tool. We will take a look at that now. The
next screenshot shows the airodump-ng tool with a discovered access point that has
encryption enabled.
The screenshot now shows that two of the access points, Cardwell and Loredana,
have encryption enabled, and that the Loredana access point is running WPA TKIP.
Not that long ago there were weaknesses found in this protocol, so it is no longer
recommended. We will discuss how to secure wireless networks in a later chapter.
Refer to the next screenshot. What is different when you compare it to the
previous image?
[ 50 ]
Chapter 3
Have you figured it out? If you look at the penultimate access point, you will notice
that there is no SSID name there; however, you do see the tool has detected that
it is a five-character SSID, but it does not know what it is. This access point has
been configured to cloak its SSID. This is a setting that many will use to hide their
access point, but it is not that effective, as we will now show. If you look at the next
screenshot, can you determine the name of that access point?
As you can see in the previous screenshot, in the Probe portion of the packet, when
the access point is connected to by a client, the SSID is in the response packet. The
only protection a cloaked or disabled broadcast of the SSID provides you is if no
one connects; because once they connect, the SSID is revealed. In this case, the client
station with the MAC address of 64:80:99:34:02:68 has connected and provided us
with the missing SSID of the access point named Kevin.
Using Kismet for access point discovery
The next tool we will look at is Kismet. This tool will automatically provide us with the
SSID when someone connects to a cloaked network. Go to Applications | Backtrack |
Information Gathering | Wireless Analysis | WLAN Analysis | Kismet.
You will get an error, because you first need to start the Kismet server. So what we
want to do is start kismet_server. You will get a prompt to start the server; click
on Yes. If the prompt does not come up, you can start the server on your own by
entering the following command in a terminal window:
[email protected]:~# kismet_server -s
[ 51 ]
Surveying Your Wireless Zone
You will get a number of errors, mainly because of the GPS; for our purposes, we will
ignore them. The next thing you want to do, if you started the server from the terminal
window, is quit the client. If you started the server within the GUI, you can skip the
next step and remain in the client window. To quit the client, click on Close window
under the File menu. Once it has exited, you want to open the tool again by navigating
to Applications | Backtrack | Information Gathering | Wireless Analysis | WLAN
Analysis | Kismet. If you did not start the server from the command line, you can
remain in the client tool. This should show that you are connected to the server now.
An example of this is shown in the following screenshot:
As you can see from the warning, Kismet is running as root, and we really never
want to do that; but for now, we will go on, because we are just working with the
tool. If you do not see any networks, you will have to specify the mon0 interface.
Click on OK to close the warning about running as root. If prompted to add the
source, you can enter mon0, and then click on OK. Alternatively, you can go to
Kismet | Add Source and then enter the interface mon0.
As you can see in the next screenshot, there is a hidden SSID. Unlike our airodumpng tool, the Kismet client does not tell us the number of characters for the SSID.
[ 52 ]
Chapter 3
The Kismet tool can be used for many things; it is an excellent packet-capturing tool
with a very good logging feature. For a good description and discussion on the tool
to identify whether a policy is being adhered to, refer to the following link:
We can use the Kismet log to identify the network ranges of the access points, as
well as for a variety of additional information. An example of this is shown in the
following screenshot:
Click on one of the access points that are listed, and then press the Enter key; this will
bring up a window with the detailed access point information. The example in the
next screenshot reflects detailed information about the Loredana access point:
[ 53 ]
Surveying Your Wireless Zone
We can also view the clients that are associated with the networks. To do this, click
on Clients under the View menu; this will display the clients that are connected to
the network. The menu selection for this is reflected in the following screenshot:
If you select the Clients menu option and do not see any clients, you can go to
Network | Next network and try to discover a network with connected clients. An
example of a network that has connected clients is shown in the following screenshot:
[ 54 ]
Chapter 3
On this network, you can see that there are two connected access points; one is from
Cisco and the other is from Intel, and they are connected through a wired connection.
There are two devices connected; they are from Samsung and Apple. With Backtrack
being a penetration testing tool, we could do a lot more with this information. But as
we do not have written authorization, we will not do that. The example shown in the
next screenshot is of a network for which the SSID is unknown at this time but which
has a number of wireless clients attached to it, so this is probably a group of phones
connected. Without further investigation, we cannot determine this for sure.
[ 55 ]
Surveying Your Wireless Zone
Discovering hidden access points
Now that we have looked at quite a bit of information from the Kismet tool, we want
to focus on the feature of discovering access points that are hidden. The way to do
this is just like we discussed with the airodump-ng tool. We have to have a client
connect to the access point while we are observing it. We have done this, and the
Kismet tool output is shown as an example in the next screenshot:
If we press Enter on the highlighted SSID, we gain additional information as shown
in the following screenshot:
[ 56 ]
Chapter 3
We can also select the connected client to see additional information about the access
point. An example of this is provided in the following screenshot:
[ 57 ]
Surveying Your Wireless Zone
As you can see from the two preceding screenshots, the SSID is cloaked in the first
screenshot, and in the second screenshot, the connected client is the actual access
point itself. The next thing we want to do is see what happens when a client connects
to the cloaked access point. The response from an access point once a client connects
to it, even when it is cloaked, is to include the SSID within the packet. The example
that is shown in the next screenshot shows what the Kismet tool discovers when the
access point is connected to by clients:
We have now shown how to discover any SSID that is hidden; all that is required
is for someone to connect to the access point.
We will look at the Wireshark tool next; as you will remember from earlier, we
looked at the Wireshark tool. You can start the Wireshark tool in BackTrack by
opening a terminal window and entering wireshark:
[email protected]:~# wireshark
Once the tool starts, click on the mon0 interface, and then click on the Start button
to start a packet capture. An example of a beacon that is sent out when the SSID
broadcast is disabled is shown in the next screenshot:
[ 58 ]
Chapter 3
In the previous screenshot, you can see that the SSID parameter set is empty; this is
because the SSID broadcast has been disabled. Remember, once a client connects, the
response will contain the SSID. An example of this is shown in the next screenshot:
This shows that disabling the SSID is a very limited security feature, and as such,
is not recommended. Most vendors do not recommend it because it makes it harder
to connect to the access points in some cases.
In this chapter, we looked at a number of tools that we can be used to survey our
wireless zone. We have seen how we could detect the channel on which the access
points were running as well as the protection scheme that is enabled, be it WEP, or
WPA. Additionally, we can also discover which clients are connected to the network,
and the IP address range of the network.
Finally, we saw that disabling the SSID broadcast on wireless in itself has limited
value, and as such, it is better to leave it enabled.
In the next chapter, we will look at examples of how attackers can break wireless
security. It is very important that we discuss how broken security is breached, and
then we can see how to protect it.
[ 59 ]
Breaching Wireless Security
In this chapter, we will discuss how hackers attack and breach wireless security. We
do this to understand the various methods of attacking so that we can defend against
them. There are a number of wireless attacks to discuss on wireless. An important
point to understand is that attackers will follow a process and methodology when
they attempt an attack, and the way to defend against this is to stop information
from getting to the potential attacker. This can be a challenge when it comes to
wireless. We group the attacks into several different categories. They are listed in
the following table:
Probing and network discovery
Denial of Service
Rogue access point
Different types of attacks
We will now discuss each one of these attacks briefly. The probing and discovery
attacks are accomplished by sending out probes and looking for the wireless networks.
We have used several tools for discovery so far, but they have all been passive in how
they discover information. A passive probing tool can detect the SSID of a network
even when it is cloaked, as we have shown with the Kismet tool. With active probing,
we are sending out probes with the SSID in it. This type of probing will not discover
a hidden or cloaked SSID. An active probing tool for this is NetStumbler (www. With an active probe, the tool will actively send out probes and
elicit responses from the access points to gather information. It is very difficult to
prevent an attacker from gathering information about our wireless access points; this
is because an access point has to be available for connection. We can cloak or hide the
SSID; however, as we have seen in the previous chapter, this is of limited value.
Breaching Wireless Security
The next step an attacker will carry out is performing the surveillance of the network.
This is the technique we used with Kismet, airodump-ng, and ssidsniff. An
example of the output of the Kismet tool is shown in the next screenshot:
All three of these tools are passive, so they do not probe the network for information.
They just capture it from the wireless frequency that is received from the network.
Each of these tools can discover the hidden SSID of a network, and again, are
passive tools.
Once the attacker has discovered the target network, they will move to the
surveillance step and attempt to gather more information about the target. For this,
we can again use any of the three tools we previously mentioned. The information
that an attacker is looking for are as follows:
• Whether or not the network is protected
• The encryption level used
• The signal strength and the GPS coordinates
When an attacker is scanning a network, he or she is looking for an "easy" target.
This is the motive of most of the attackers; they want an easy way in, and almost
always, they target the weakest link.
The next step that an attacker will typically pursue is Denial of Service (DoS);
unfortunately, this is one area we really cannot do much about. This is because,
in the case of a wireless signal, the network can be jammed by using simple and
inexpensive tools; so if an attacker wants to perform a DoS attack, there is really not
much that we can do to prevent it. So we will not spend any more time on this attack.
[ 62 ]
Chapter 4
The next attack method is one that is shared between the "wired" network world
and the wireless world. The attack of masquerading, or spoofing as it is sometimes
referred to, involves impersonating an authorized client on a network. One of the
protection mechanisms we have within our wireless networks is the capability to
restrict or filter a client based on their Media Access Control (MAC) address. This
address is that of the network card itself; it is how data is delivered on our networks.
There are a number of ways to change the MAC address; we have tools, and we can
also change it from the command line in Linux. The simplest way to change our
MAC address is to use the macchanger tool. An example of how to use this tool to
change an address is shown in the next screenshot:
[ 63 ]
Breaching Wireless Security
In the Windows world, we can do it in another way; but it involves editing the
registry, which might be too difficult for some of you. The hardware address is in the
registry; you can find it by searching for the term wireless within the registry. An
example of this registry entry is shown in the following screenshot:
The last category of attacks that we will cover here is the rogue access point. This is
an attack that takes advantage of the fact that all wireless networks have a particular
level of power that they transmit. What we do for this attack is create an access
point with more power than the access point we are masquerading as; this results
in a stronger signal being received by the client software. When would anyone take
a three-bar signal over a five-bar signal? The answer for that would be: never; that
is why the attack is so powerful. An attacker can create an access point as a rogue
access point; there is no way for most clients to tell whether the access point is real
or not. There really is nothing that you can do to stop this attack effectively. This is
why it is a common attack used in areas that have a public hotspot. We do have a
recommended mechanism you can use to help mitigate the impact of this type of
attack, and we will cover that in the next chapter. If you look at the example that is
shown in the next screenshot, can you identify which one of the access points with
the same name is the correct one?
[ 64 ]
Chapter 4
This is an example of what most clients see when they are using Windows. From this
list, there is no way of knowing which one of the access points is the real one.
Now that we have covered, albeit briefly, the steps that an attacker typically uses
when preparing for an attack, next we want to look at how to protect the data in
transit on a wireless network.
Cracking WEP and WPA
There are a number of ways in which we can protect the data that is transmitted
across wireless frequencies. When the IEEE committee formed and created the
wireless 802.11 standard, they were conscious enough to know they had to take
the security of wireless information into account, because wireless is in the air!
Unfortunately, the committee was full of radio engineers, and as such, they really
did not know about security. As a result, they made a fatal mistake when they
selected the first encryption protocol to protect wireless networks. The flaws of that
first protocol, Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), are well documented. For more
information and an analysis on this, refer to
[ 65 ]
Breaching Wireless Security
In short, the selected protocol used an encryption algorithm named RC4. It uses a
stream cipher, and as such, the key should not be reused. Even the author of the
algorithm states this in the paper on the algorithm. Radio engineers should not have
been selecting cryptographic algorithms, and if even they were, they should not have
done it without some form of peer review. All of these could have prevented the
WEP standard from being adopted, but as is often the case when it comes to the IT
industry, they were ignored, and we were left with an extremely weak encryption
method that provided little security to us. The weaknesses of WEP and how it is
broken could fill an entire book, and there are numerous books on this. For this book,
we will focus on the attacks not only against WEP, but also WPA.
To crack WEP, we have to capture enough packets with a sufficient number of weak
Initialization Vectors (IVs) to perform a number of heuristics and predict the key.
The first thing we have to do is discover a WEP-configured access point. We have
discussed a number of tools for doing this, and we will not cover them again here. We
will concentrate on using the airodump-ng tool as it is part of the aircrack-ng suite
that can be used in conjunction with airodump-ng to crack WEP real time. An example
of using the airodump-ng mon0 command is shown in the following screenshot:
As we can see, there are a number of WEP-configured access points, and this is
something that we really should not see today. The WEP protocol has been
broken since its inception and should not be used on today's networks; this is why
the access point manufacturers implement stronger encryption schemes, such as
WPA and WPA2.
[ 66 ]
Chapter 4
An attacker could select one of the WEP networks and conduct an attack. Because
we are not attackers, we will only attack networks that we have set up for
demonstration. From the list in the previous screenshot, we have set up the access
point with an ESSID of Cardwell.
Within Backtrack, there are a number of tools that we can use to attempt to crack
the WEP key. The probability of cracking the key is improved when we have clients
connected to the access point. We can still crack the key without connected clients,
but the probability is not as high as it is when we have connected clients. The first
tool we will use is the Gerix Wifi Cracker. You can access the tool by going to
Applications | Backtrack | Exploitation Tools | Wireless Exploitation Tools |
WLAN Exploitation | gerix-wifi-cracker-ng. Once the window opens, the first thing
we want to do is enable the monitor mode by navigating to Configuration | Enable
monitor mode. We then select the mon0 interface and scan for networks. An example
of this is shown in the next screenshot:
[ 67 ]
Breaching Wireless Security
The next thing we want to do is select the WEP network that we want to attack. Once
we have selected the network, we will go to WEP | Start sniffing and logging. This
will open the window that is shown in the next screenshot:
As the screenshot indicates, the access point Cardwell has been selected for our
attack. Now that we have started the sniffing and logging, we next want to select
our attack, but before we do that, we want to verify that our access point is open for
injection. We do this by clicking on the Performs a test of injection AP. This should
result in the window shown in the next screenshot, which verifies that our injection
is possible:
Performing an attack using WEP
and ChopChop
We are now ready to perform our attacks. We have a number of attacks to choose
from. You are probably wondering which one to use? Well, each one has its strengths
and weaknesses, and it is mostly a trial and error operation. The process also
depends on whether there are clients connected or not. For this demonstration, we
will use WEP attacks without clients. We will start with the ChopChop attack. There
is a sequence of steps next; they are as follows:
[ 68 ]
Chapter 4
1. In the ChopChop Attack section under the WEP Attacks (no-client) section,
associate with the access point (AP) using fake authentication by clicking on
that option (as shown in the following screenshot):
2. Once you have associated with the access point, refer to the sniff_dump
window. It should look similar to the one in the following screenshot:
3. Click on the Start the ChopChop attack option. This will open up another
window, which is reflected in the next screenshot:
[ 69 ]
Breaching Wireless Security
4. Accept the discovered packet by pressing Y. The result of this will be
a calculation by the program to generate a file. This is shown in the
following screenshot:
5. In some cases, the attack may fail. If it does fail, you can try again or try the
fragmentation attack. Unfortunately, the cracking is not 100 percent. If all goes
well, you should see the file get created as shown in the following screenshot:
[ 70 ]
Chapter 4
6. The next step is to create the ARP packet that is to be injected. Click on the
Create the ARP packet to be injected on the victim access point. Then click
on the Inject the created packet on the victim access point. This will open
another window; accept the packet by pressing Y.
7. Now, refer back to the sniff_dump window; you should see the data packets
counting up. This is reflected in the following screenshot:
The number of data packets (#Data) is the important field; if it is counting
up, you can start attempting to crack the key when it goes above 5000. You
can do this by going to Cracking | Aircrack-ng – Decrypt WEP password.
If all goes well, you will see that the key is found, as indicated in the
following screenshot:
In the next chapter, we will discuss the recommended security configurations for the
wireless networks of today.
The last attack we will perform is against the WPA protocol; it is an attack against
the password used in the configuration of an access point. The method requires the
attacker to capture the four-way handshake between a client and an access point,
and then load that capture file into a cracking tool to determine the password that
was used. One method of doing this is to use the Wireshark program to capture the
data and save it to a file. The tool we will use for this is "reaver". We can access the
tool by navigating to Applications | Backtrack | Exploitation Tools | Wireless
Exploitation Tools | WLAN Exploitation | reaver.
[ 71 ]
Breaching Wireless Security
Once the window opens, enter the following command:
[email protected]:~# reaver -i mon0 -b [BSSID] –vv
As a reminder, you can get the BSSID from the airodump-ng display. After that, it is
just a matter of waiting.
The dictionary attack that is used against WPA can be carried out with relative ease
once you have captured the handshake. If you know the password, you can verify if
it is in the dictionary file, and then run the command to crack it; if it is not there, you
have to add it. The tool we will use for this is aircrack-ng. As an example, to crack
the WPA key, you will load the captured file into the tool as follows:
[email protected]:~# aircrack-ng -a 2 wpa-psk-linksys.cap -w password.lst
This command will try to crack the WPA key based on the defined password list.
This is shown in the next screenshot:
As you can see, cracking the keys is a straightforward process once you have
captured the required information or enough packets and weak IVs.
[ 72 ]
Chapter 4
In this chapter, we have reviewed the steps that an attacker would typically use
when targeting or looking for a network. We have identified the weaknesses in the
encryption options that were originally used when the 802.11 standard was created.
Finally, we showed that the replacement for WEP is WPA, and there are attacks
against that as well. We also provided an example of the WPA dictionary attack. In
the next chapter, we will revisit these flaws in the wireless protocol and discuss how
you can take steps to mitigate the risk of these attacks, and in some cases, eliminate
the threat completely.
[ 73 ]
Securing Your
Wireless Network
In this chapter, we will look at the following information:
• Configuring initial wireless security
• Adjusting transmit power
• Defending from surveillance
• Configuring encryption
Configuring initial wireless security
In the last chapter, we discussed how an attacker can break into a wireless network.
Now that we have discussed this process and methodology, we will look at securing
our wireless networks from attacks.
The first steps in the methodology that we discussed were probing and network
discovery. As was mentioned in the previous chapter, it is difficult to prevent this
because we need to have our networks available. Having said that, there are things
we can do to limit our "visibility" when it comes to wireless networks.
Unless you need to broadcast your wireless network out to the public, there is
no need to transmit your signals at full power. Not all access points will have the
option to reduce the transmission power, but it is worth looking into, to see if yours
supports it.
Securing Your Wireless Network
The majority of access points will have a web-based interface that you can use to
configure information about the network. To access it is a simple matter of opening
a browser and entering the IP address. If you do not know the IP address, note
that it is usually the address of the default gateway when you view your wireless
connection. On a Windows machine, open a command prompt window, and enter
ipconfig /all | more. This should result in a list of details of your network cards
on that machine. An example of this is shown in the following screenshot:
As you can see from the previous screenshot, the wireless access point is located
at the location on this network. The next thing to do is to access
the web server that is running on the machine and look at the configuration
settings and, more importantly, at the options. We'll do this by opening a browser
and entering the IP address that we discovered. For this example, we will enter
If all goes well, we will be presented with a login page for the device. This is shown
in the following screenshot:
[ 76 ]
Chapter 5
At this point, we need to know the username and password of the device. In many
cases this is admin, with a password of admin. If it has been changed, we could be in
for a challenge; if all else fails, we can reset it using the button on the device. There
are a number of ways to discover what credentials are required to access the device.
Some devices will have the information on the device itself. If you are struggling,
you can use the Internet to do a search for the default password of the device. A
favorite site to use is Once you are on the site, you can
enter the manufacturer and product's information and look up the default passwords
of the device. If you have a user manual available, you can try using that. If all else
fails, you can try to hack into the device. Once you have successfully determined the
login credentials, you should be provided access to the device's configuration pages.
These pages may vary depending on the device, so it is best to consult the user
manual. An example of the configuration page of a Bountiful router is shown in the
next screenshot:
[ 77 ]
Securing Your Wireless Network
Again, there really is no good way to explore the settings here, so we can either use
the user manual, search on the Internet, or just click on things to see what we have.
The first thing to click on is usually the tab that has something to do with wireless
networks. When you click on the Wireless tab of the configuration page for the
Bountiful router, you are presented with the screen shown in the next screenshot:
As we can see, the Bountiful router makes it very easy for us to make changes to the
transmit power on the device. It is recommended that you reduce the transmit power
to half and test it to see how the signal is received in the areas that it is required in.
Again, there is no reason to transmit at full power unless you have a weak signal or
dead spot somewhere that you are trying to overcome.
Defending from surveillance
The second step of the attacking methodology that we discussed in Chapter 4,
Breaching Wireless Security, is the surveillance step. In this step, the attacker surveys
and looks for a weak network to attack. In the example shown in the next screenshot,
what kind of network do you think the attacker would attempt to attack?
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Chapter 5
While many of you would probably be tempted to go after the access points that
use the WEP protocol, an attacker would usually go for the open access points
that are not protected by any form of encryption. This is because if the access point
is not protected, it is just a matter of connecting to it and then carrying out the rest of
the process. This should provide you with the first step for defending your network
once you have made the power modifications that are allowed by your device. The
next step is to configure encryption on the access point. Since we are several chapters
into the book at this time and have discussed the flaws of WEP, there should be no
doubt in your mind that we need to select one of the WPA protection options for the
access point.
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Securing Your Wireless Network
Configuring encryption
The challenge we have is that there is no standard, and different access points will
provide different methods and names for the settings. The options of the Bountiful
router are shown in the following screenshot:
When you look at the previous screenshot, how do you know what it means? Well,
this is where you either consult the manual or configure a particular setting and then
see what happens. We all know that WEP is not an option, so we can eliminate that
right away. The challenge is all of the variants of WPA. What exactly do they mean?
The important thing to remember is that the WPA configuration changes from a key
that is based on the hexadecimal numbering system to a password or passphrase.
This means that, as a user, you have to select a strong password or passphrase. You
may recall that we cracked a dictionary word that was used in a WPA configuration.
So, one of the first things you want to do is think of a strong password or passphrase
to use for your configuration. On this configuration page, we do not have much
information to go on other than the options WPA/WPA2 and personal/enterprise.
Which one should we use? The best way to think about this is that you want to use
the strongest possible option that you can configure and set up easily.
The WPA2 Enterprise option usually requires a RADIUS server to act as the
authentication server. Now that we have discussed some of the options, refer to
the previous screenshot once again. Which one would you say is the strongest and
best protection scheme? This is kind of a trick question because, as we have already
stated, the strength of the authentication comes down to the password or passphrase.
The recommendation is that you use a password or passphrase that is greater than 14
characters in length. In the Bountiful interface, we really cannot tell what algorithm
is being used. There have been some attacks against WPA that were not classic
dictionary attacks, so we do not want to select one of them.
[ 80 ]
Chapter 5
In WPA, we have two main cryptographic algorithms. The first one, which has been
around the longest, is referred to as WPA Personal or WPA PSK TKIP. The TKIP
stands for Temporal Key Integrity Protocol; and since it has been around the longest,
some attacks have been developed against it. In fact, it has not been recommended
for wireless security since 2006. The second algorithm is AES that stands for
Advanced Encryption Standard. This is the algorithm that is recommended today,
and this is usually what is meant by WPA2 PSK Enterprise. If you refer to the next
screenshot, you can see what the AES configuration page looks like in Kismet:
The challenge is, if you refer to the following screenshot of the settings available in
the Bountiful router, the router really does not come out and state AES. Fortunately,
most of the newer routers will state whether the configuration setting is AES or not.
An example of this is shown in the following screenshot:
If the wireless router you have does not have AES listed, as shown in the previous
screenshot, you can either consult the user manual or configure the router and then
use one of the tools that we have covered to see if you can detect what algorithm is
being used.
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Securing Your Wireless Network
Settings that provide protection from
masquerade and rogue AP attacks
This brings us to the masquerade and rogue AP attacks. The best defense against
these types of attacks is encryption; by this we mean the encryption of the data
on your network. This will prevent an attacker from successfully compromising
WLAN traffic because it will be encrypted even if they manage to break in to the
wireless network. This is best accomplished by setting up a Virtual Private Network
(VPN). This is an essential component to deploy when you are connected to wireless
hotspots. There are a number of VPN services out there, but before we get into them,
we will look at examples with and without a VPN. If you refer to the next screenshot,
you will see the network data from a wireless network that is not protected by a VPN.
As you can see, the FTP protocol is clear text, and as such, the data that was entered
(that is, the username and password) has been compromised on this network. The
way to protect this is to use a VPN and encrypt the data. The next example shows the
same network data after a VPN setup.
[ 82 ]
Chapter 5
As you can see from the next screenshot, there is no information about the username
and password; in fact, there is nothing on the protocol either! This is the power of a
VPN and, to reiterate, it is essential that you use these when connecting from public
hotspots and do everything from within a VPN. If you'll look at the example in the
next screenshot, you will see that there is nothing in the network traffic other than
the encrypted traffic; the network traffic is all-encrypted.
You are probably wondering how to get a VPN. Well, there are a number of them on
the market, and it is beyond the scope of this book to cover them in detail. As with
most software, there are reviews available online; so if you'll conduct a search in
your favorite search engine, you will be able read the reviews for the different VPN
products. There are three that we will mention here. The first one is the OpenVPN
product; it has both free and commercial versions, and you can find out more
about it at The second one
we will discuss is the proXPN product. For the PC, it is free; for mobile devices, it
requires payment. You can find out more at The last
one we will talk about is the BananaVPN. There is no free version of this; you can
get more information about it at It does not matter
what product you choose, but it is essential that you get the VPN software and start
protecting your data in transit.
[ 83 ]
Securing Your Wireless Network
The last protection mechanism we will cover is the firmware. It is essential that
you update the firmware of your wireless devices. Just like software, these devices
require updating. It is no different from patching your operating system or software
on your computers or mobile devices. Unfortunately, it is often neglected, and as
a result of this, many attacks have been conducted against the device itself. For an
indication of this, you can go to and see a list of attacks against
a variety of different router manufacturers. This is just a small sample of the attacks
out there, so update your firmware. Do it today!
In this chapter, we have discussed the measures you need to take to secure your
wireless network. It is imperative that you select a data protection configuration
to make your wireless network as secure as possible. The recommended setting is
WPA2 with the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). For those of you who want
to go the extra mile and configure your wireless network to the level of an enterprise
configuration, you might want to review the documentation at www.freeradius.
org and experiment with building a RADIUS server to handle your authentication.
It is not the easiest setup to deploy, but it does provide you with an enterprise-level
wireless network. For home use, this is not required; the WPA2 AES is as strong as
most will ever need. Bear in mind that you need to set a complex password with a
minimum length of 14 characters. Refer to the following table for a small sample of
how long it takes to crack a password depending on the password's length. For more
information, refer to
Length of password
Estimated crack time
(assuming 100 billion
guesses per second)
Seven – alphanumeric and symbols. For example, HHffg!!.
5 minutes
Nine – alphanumeric and symbols. For example, HHffg!!68.
2.5 months
Fourteen – alphanumeric and symbols. For example,
15 million centuries
What usually works best is a phrase that only you know. Finally, we looked at the
reality that a wireless network is, in fact, open to the air, and the result of this is that
the data is not protected in transit in most cases. Our solution for this is to deploy a
VPN. It is imperative that we always use a VPN when connecting to public access
points or hotspots.
In conclusion, there are things we can do to protect our wireless networks. The
techniques we have discussed throughout the book will provide you with the best
protection possible and allow you to continue to use and enjoy the conveniences of
wireless networks in a safe and secure manner.
[ 84 ]
Wireless Tools
In this appendix, we will list a number of the tools that are available for wireless
networks. We've used some of the tools throughout the book, while we've not used
some others at all. The intent is to provide the readers with a one-stop reference for
looking up the tools to support them in their quest for securing and learning more
about wireless networks. The tools are not listed in any particular order.
• aircrack-ng: It is a powerful suite of tools that can be used to crack WEP/
WPA and other security protocols. aircrack-ng is an entire distribution of
tools to use when assessing wireless security. While the tool was originally
written for the Linux platform, there is also a Windows version. As with most
tools, the Windows version is not as robust; furthermore, it would require you
to develop your own DLLs, and this is not something most would want to do.
So, it is best to stick with the Linux version. The tools within aircrack-ng are
very powerful and should be part of your wireless auditing toolbox. For more
information, refer to
• aireplay-ng: It is used to inject/replay frames, and with attacks like the
cracking of WEP, this can speed up the process. The aireplay-ng tool is
used in combination with the aircrack-ng tool. The concept is to generate
the packets and capture them, and then apply the captured traffic to the
aircrack-ng tool. The aireplay-ng program is very powerful and can
implement a large number of attacks. For more information, refer to
• airmon-ng: It is used for placing a card in monitor mode, which turns off
filtering on the network card, and in effect, allows all traffic to be received.
Since the card is placed in monitor mode, it only displays 802.11 wireless
network traffic. The airmon-ng utility will also display the status of
interfaces if executed without any parameters. For more information, refer to
Wireless Tools
• airodump-ng: It is used as a protocol analyzer to capture raw 802.11 wireless
packets. The tool is used in conjunction with the other aircrack-ng tools
for testing wireless security. There is GPS capability, which provides
the ability to log the coordinates of the access point (AP) that are found.
For more information, refer to
• airpwn: It is mainly a hacking tool that allows you to attack wireless
networks by eavesdropping transmitted packets between client and access
point. The tool will listen and look for a specific pattern, and once it finds a
match, it will carry out an attack, such as spoofing (pretending to be someone
else). For more information, refer to
• Kismet: It is an excellent scanning tool that can not only detect access points
but that also has the capability to perform as an intrusion detection system
(IDS). This capability is carried out using what is referred to as kismet
drones. More information about this and other features can be found at
• ssidsniff: It is used to scan for access points and to capture and save
wireless traffic to a file. The tool has a scripting capability that allows it to be
customized and configured to meet the different requirements of an audit.
For more information, see
• dsniff: It is a set of tools that can be used for a number of tasks; it can be
used to identify protocols that are using clear text communication and to
display the authentication credentials that are captured from the network.
For more information, refer to
• ettercap: It is a powerful tool that can be used as a sniffer and much more. The
tool can perform man-in-the middle attacks (MiTM) and ARP poisoning and
can display authentication information from network traffic. It has a scripting
language that you can use to filter, modify, and inject data into network
packets. The tool can also be used to intercept communications of encrypted
protocols. ettercap has many features and is a tool at which you should take a
look. For more information, go to
• inSSIDer: This tool is similar to Kismet, but it was started for the Windows
platform. inSSIDer products are free, and there are also a number of
commercial products available with enhanced features. The program allows
you to scan for access points and display a number of parameters about each
access point that is discovered. Features allow you to measure signal strength
and identify the coverage of the signal to determine interference obstacles. For
more information, go to
[ 86 ]
• Ekehau: It is a commercial site survey tool that shows the wireless coverage
of access pints. The tool can be used to identify weak signal areas and
improve wireless network design. Another feature of the tool is that you can
upload a map, and the tool will map the access point signal strength with
respect to the provided map. Ekehau has an add-on of a wireless spectrum
analyzer that can be used in conjunction with the tool to perform a complete
analysis of the wireless frequency spectrum. There is a suite of tools to
review; for more information, see
• AirMagnet: It is a comprehensive software suite that provides numerous
solutions across the wireless landscape. Some of the available solutions are
as follows:
Wireless lifecycle
WLAN design
WLAN security and performance monitoring
WLAN analysis and maintenance
For more information, refer to
• Cisco Spectrum Expert: It takes spectrum analysis to another level; not only
does it scan the frequency spectrum, it also classifies the devices that it
encounters. This allows the source of the interference to be localized as well
as identified. For more information, go to
• AirDefense: It provides a multitude of products for security and
compliance. The product provides for wireless IDS. AirDefense
eliminates the threat of rogue access points by analyzing the traffic
and prioritizing threats to the network. For more information, see
• Yellowjacket: It is a wireless receiver module designed to work with HP's
iPAQ® PocketPC®. The receiver is used to analyze wireless channels and
identify the information and characteristics of a wireless architecture.
Yellowjacket is a mobile hardware platform that can be carried into the field
for analysis. For more information, refer to
[ 87 ]
access point discovery
Kismet, using for 51-54
Advanced Encryption Standard 81
aircrack-ng tool
about 85
URL, for info 85
about 87
URL, for info 87
aireplay-ng tool
about 85
URL, for info 85
about 87
solutions 87
URL, for info 87
airmon-ng tool
about 46, 85
URL, for info 85
airodump-ng mon0 command 66
airodump-ng tool
about 49, 50, 62, 66, 86
URL, for info 86
airpwn tool
about 86
URL, for info 86
Alpha AWUS036H
URL 29
apt-get update command 12
performing, ChopChop used 68-72
performing, WEP used 68-72
Auditor 5
configuring 6, 7
downloading 6, 7
installing 7-12
installing, to hard disk 20, 21
updating 12, 13
BackTrack distribution 5
backtracking 5
BananaVPN 83
used. for performing attacks 68-72
Cisco Spectrum Expert
about 87
URL, for info 87
Denial of Service (DoS) attack 62
exploring 44-48
dsniff tool
about 86
URL, for info 86
about 87
URL, for info 87
configuring 80, 81
ESSID (Extended Service Set
Identification) 32
ettercap tool
about 86
URL, for info 86
Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) 29
Gerix Wifi Cracker 67
Global Positioning System (GPS) 50
customizing 16
hackers 61
hidden access points
discovering 56-59
Hyper-V 8
ifconfig command 9
inSSIDer tool
about 86
URL, for info 86
installation, BackTrack 7-12
validating 14, 15
iPAQ® PocketPC® 87
iwconfig tool
used, for detecting wireless card 27, 28
about 51, 61, 62, 86
URL, for info 86
using, for access point directory 51-54
kismet drones 86
man-in-the middle attacks (MiTM) 86
masquerading attack 63
about 61
URL 61
network card
protocol, analyzing with 37-41
OpenVPN product 83
probing and discovery attacks 61
analyzing, with network card 37-41
proXPN product 83
RC4 algorithm 66
rogue access point attack 64
for protection from masquerade and
rogue AP attacks 82, 83
ssidsniff tool
about 47, 50, 62, 86
URL, for info 86
surveillance attacks
about 62
defending from 78, 79
working with 49- 51
[ 90 ]
virtual machine
creating 18-22
Virtual Private Network (VPN) 82
VMware Player 7
VMware software 7
VMware Workstation 7
cracking 65-68
used. for performing attacks 68-72
Whax 5
Wicd Network Manager 45
URL 29
Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP)
algorithm 37
wireless attacks
types 61, 62
wireless attacks, types
Denial of Service (DoS) 62
masquerading 63
probing and discovery attacks 61
rogue access point 64
surveillance 62
wireless card
compatibility, verifying 23, 24
configuring 29-33
detecting, during boot process 25-27
detecting, iwconfig tool used 27, 28
modes 33-36
wireless security
breaching 61
configuring 75-78
wireless tools
aircrack-ng 85
AirDefense 87
aireplay-ng 85
AirMagnet 87
airmon-ng 85
airodump-ng 86
airpwn 86
Cisco Spectrum Expert 87
dsniff 86
Ekehau 87
ettercap 86
inSSIDer 86
Kismet 86
ssidsniff 86
Yellowjacket 87
about 39, 58
URL 39
cracking 65-68
WPA2 46
about 87
URL, for info 87
[ 91 ]
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BackTrack – Testing Wireless Network Security
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