13 popular wireless hacking tools [updated 2021]
Wi-Fi is prevalent. Many of these wireless networks are password-protected, and knowledge of the password is required to get online.
Wireless hacking tools are designed to help secure and attack these wireless networks. Some are designed to help gain access to the network password and the network itself. Others provide information about the structure and traffic flowing over the network, informing later attacks.
There are several popular tools for Wi-Fi hacking.
Wireless networks and hacking
Wireless networks are based on IEEE 802.11 standards defined by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE ) for ad hoc networks or infrastructure networks. Infrastructure networks have one or more access points that coordinate the traffic between the nodes. But in ad hoc networks, there is no access point; each node connects in a peer-to-peer way.
Two types of vulnerabilities can be found in the Wireless LAN. One is poor configuration and the other is poor encryption. Poor configuration is caused by the network admin who manages the network. It may include a weak password, a lack of security settings, use of default configurations and other user-related issues.
Poor encryption is related to security keys used to protect the wireless network. These vulnerabilities exist because of issues in WEP or WPA.
WEP and WPA
WEP and WPA are the two main security protocols used in Wi-Fi LAN. WEP, or Wired Equivalent Privacy, is a deprecated security protocol that was introduced back in 1997 as a part of the original 802.11 standards. However, it was weak, and several serious weaknesses were found in the protocol. Now, this can be cracked within minutes.
A new Wi-Fi security protocol was introduced in 2003. This new protocol was Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA). While most routers currently use WPA or WPA2, a third version called WPA3 was certified a few years ago and is designed to replace the existing protocols.
To get unauthorized access to a network, one needs to crack these security protocols. Many tools can crack Wi-Fi encryption. These tools can either take advantage of WEP weaknesses or use brute force password guessing attacks on WPA/WPA2/WPA3.
Top tools for Wi-Fi hacking
Wireless hacking tools are of two types. One can be used to sniff the network and monitor what is happening in the network. The other kind of tool is used to hack WEP/WPA keys. These are the popular tools used for wireless password cracking and network troubleshooting.
Aircrack-ng is one of the most popular wireless password cracking tools that you can use for 802.11a/b/g WEP and WPA cracking. Aircrack-ng uses the best algorithms to recover wireless passwords by capturing packets. Once enough packets have been gathered, it tries to recover the password. To make the attack faster, it implements a standard FMS attack with some optimizations.
The company behind the tool also offers an online tutorial where you can learn how to install and use this tool to crack wireless passwords. It comes as Linux distribution, Live CD and VMware image options. You can use any of these. It supports most of the wireless adapters and is almost guaranteed to work. If you are using a Linux distribution, the only drawback of the tool is that it requires deeper knowledge of Linux. If you are not comfortable with Linux, you will find it hard to use this tool. In this case, try Live CD or VMWare image. VMWare Image needs less knowledge, but it only works with a limited set of host OS, and only USB devices are supported.
Before you start using this too, confirm that the wireless card can inject packets. Then start WEP cracking. Read the online tutorial on the website to know more about the tool. If you follow the steps properly, you should be able to successfully crack a Wi-Fi network protected with WEP.
Download Aircrack-ng: http://www.aircrack-ng.org/
Wifite is a Python script designed to simplify wireless security auditing. It runs existing wireless hacking tools for you, eliminating the need to memorize and correctly use the different tools with their various options.
Wifite2 is a complete rewrite of the original Wifite tool. It is designed to work on the Kali Linux and ParrotSec Linux distros. Before running Wifite, it is recommended to install their optional tools as they are essential for running some of the supported attacks.
Download Wifite2: https://github.com/derv82/wifite2
Kismet is a wireless network sniffer that works for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, software-defined Radio (SDR) and other wireless protocols. It passively collects packets being broadcast in its vicinity and analyzes them to detect even hidden Wi-Fi networks.
Kismet is supported on all operating systems (using WSL on Windows) and is actively supported. The last 2020 release significantly re-architected the system to improve performance and add new features.
Download Kismet: http://www.kismetwireless.net/
Wifiphisher is a tool designed to perform man-in-the-middle attacks by exploiting Wi-Fi association. By convincing wireless users to connect to the rogue access point, Wifiphisher provides an attacker with the ability to intercept and monitor or modify their wireless traffic.
Wifiphisher also enables an attacker to launch web phishing attacks. These can be used to collect user credentials for third-party sites or Wi-Fi network credentials. Additionally, Wifiphisher is designed to be modular, enabling advanced users to write custom code to expand its capabilities.
Download Wifiphisher: https://github.com/wifiphisher/wifiphisher
inSSIDer is a popular Wi-Fi scanner for Microsoft Windows and OS X operating systems. The inSSIDer wi-fi scanner can do various tasks, including finding open Wi-Fi access points, tracking signal strength and saving logs with GPS records.
inSSIDer works on a freemium model. Basic functionality is available for free, but certain features require a paid membership.
Download inSSIDer: https://www.metageek.com/products/inssider/
Wireshark is the network protocol analyzer. It lets you check what is happening in your network. You can capture packets live and inspect them at a high level or see the values of particular fields within a packet. It runs on Windows, Linux, OS X, Solaris, FreeBSD and others.
Wireshark is designed to be user-friendly but has a great deal of functionality under the hood. It is most useful if you have a strong understanding of network protocols and can effectively interpret the traffic that you are seeing.
Download Wireshark: https://www.wireshark.org/
CoWPAtty is an automated dictionary attack tool for WPA-PSK. It runs on Linux OS. This program has a command-line interface and runs on a word list that contains the password to use in the attack.
Using the tool is simple, but it is slow. That’s because the hash uses PBKDF2 with 4096 iterations to generate a potential passphrase from a network SSID and password. Since each calculation of PBKDF takes time, this makes a brute force password guessing attack very slow.
However, CoWPAtty does have a rainbow table designed to mitigate this issue. Since many routers have common SSIDs, pre-computed tables have been generated for these SSIDs and common passwords. If the target network is one of these, testing it against the precomputed dictionary is much faster.
Download CoWPAtty: http://sourceforge.net/projects/cowpatty/
AirJack is a Wi-Fi 802.11 packet injection tool. This wireless cracking tool is very useful in injecting forged packets and taking a network down via a denial of service attack. This tool can also be used for a man-in-the-middle attack on the network.
Download AirJack: http://sourceforge.net/projects/airjack/
Airgeddon is designed to be an all-in-one tool for security analysis of wireless networks. To accomplish this, it integrates several existing tools and provides a single command-line interface for all of them. This helps to reduce the complexity of performing Wi-Fi security audits because Airgeddon’s CLI walks you through the process and handles interactions with all of the underlying tools.
Download Airgeddon: https://github.com/v1s1t0r1sh3r3/airgeddon
OmniPeek is another nice packet sniffer and network analyzer tool. This tool is commercial and supports only Windows operating systems.
OmniPeek is included on this list despite being a commercial tool due to the extensive feature set. This tool is intended to be an all-in-one Wi-Fi network management solution and includes packet capture, protocol decoding, network diagnostics and troubleshooting and even playback and analysis of voice and video traffic for diagnostic purposes.
Download OmniPeek: https://www.liveaction.com/products/omnipeek-network-protocol-analyzer/
11. CommView for WiFi
CommView for WiFi is another popular wireless monitor and packet analyzer tool. It comes with an easy-to-understand GUI. It works fine with 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac networks. It captures every packet and displays useful information as a list. You can get useful information like access points, stations, signal strength, network connections and protocol distribution.
Captured packets can be decrypted by user-defined WEP or WPA keys.
This tool is basically for Wi-Fi network admins, security professionals, home users who want to monitor their Wi-Fi traffic and programmers working on software for wireless networks.
Download CommView: http://www.tamos.com/products/commwifi/
CloudCracker is an online password cracking tool for cracking WPA-protected Wi-Fi networks. This tool can also be used to crack different password hashes. Just upload the handshake file, enter the network name, and start the tool. This tool has a huge dictionary of around 300 million words to perform attacks.
Try Cloudcracker: https://crack.sh/
13. Kali Linux NetHunter
The tools discussed so far have been focused on wireless hacking from the desktop. However, the growth of mobile devices has also inspired the creation of several hacking tools designed for smartphones and similar devices.
Kali Linux NetHunter is one example of such an app. It is a fully open-source Android penetration platform that is designed to run on Nexus phones. In addition to Wi-Fi-focused tools, NetHunter also includes a complete Kali Linux toolset.
Download Kali NetHunter: https://www.kali.org/kali-linux-nethunter/
Choosing the right tool for Wi-Fi security testing
Attempting to gain unauthorized access to wireless networks is illegal in most jurisdictions. If you want to practice with these tools, use a wireless network that you own or one where you have the permissions of the network owner.
Wireless monitoring and troubleshooting tools are basically for network admins and programmers working on Wi-Fi-based software. These tools help when some of your systems face problems in connecting to the network. They are also valuable for red teamers and penetration testers looking for potential vulnerabilities to exploit.