Wireless Hack Tools

by James T Wood

Wireless networks provide the convenience of access to network and internet resources without the necessity of plugging in a network cable, but they also increase the security liabilities that need to be addressed by network administrators. Unauthorized access to wirelesses networks and/or collecting wireless data without permission constitutes a crime in most jurisdictions. There are tools you can use for the purpose of locating and addressing holes in your wireless network security.

Network Discovery

The first step in hacking a WiFi network is finding out that it exists. NetStumbler is a network discovery tool, but it has somewhat limited compatibility with network cards. Alternatively you can use Kismet to detect WiFi networks in range of your computer; Kismet can detect WiFi networks that are not broadcasting an identification signal (SSID).

Passcode Encryption

WiFi networks that are secured through a passcode attempt to limit access by requiring a key to be entered before network access is granted. Keys have different strengths depending on the type and level of encryption used. For example, WEP encryption is relatively easy to hack compared to WPA or WPA2. However, WPA 40-bit encryption is a lower-level (and therefore easier to hack) encryption than WPA 128-bit. Use tools like AirSnort to "sniff" a WEP key by listening to the encrypted traffic over a network to reverse engineer the encryption key. A tool like CowPatty employs a brute force strategy so it tries as many different variations of a key as necessary to find the right one.

Wireless Data

The final test of your wireless security is to determine whether or not the data sent over the network can be intercepted and decoded. A packet sniffing program reads the individual packets of data sent over a network and attempts to reconstruct them into the original data sent. Network routers are designed to divide the data into packets which can be sent through various routes and then recombined at the destination. Packet sniffing software like WireShark or Ethereal can detect the packets transmitted across a network and, depending on the level of encryption employed, reconstruct the packets into the original data.

About the Author

James T Wood is a teacher, blogger and author. Since 2009 he has published two books and numerous articles, both online and in print. His work experience has spanned the computer world, from sales and support to training and repair. He is also an accomplished public speaker and PowerPoint presenter.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera wlan router 02 image by pmphoto from Fotolia.com