10+ BEST WiFi Sniffers | Top Network IP Packet Sniffers in 2021

WiFi Sniffing is the ability to monitor, intercept, and decode network data. WiFi sniffer offers specific features and functionalities for diagnosing and investigating network problems, monitoring network usage, identifying configuration issues & network bottlenecks. It helps you to filter the network traffic.

Packet Sniffing is a colloquial term that refers to the art of network traffic analysis. There are many useful tools that help you collect network traffic activity. Most of them use PCAP (Unix-like systems) to do the actual collection.

Packet sniffing tool helps to design and analyze these collected network traffic packets as small amounts of data that are hard to navigate.

Following is a handpicked list of Top WiFi Sniffer Apps with their popular features and website links. The list contains both open source (free) and commercial (paid) software.

Best WiFi Packet Sniffers for IP Networks

Name Supported Platforms Free Trial Link
SolarWinds Microsoft Windows Server Yes Learn More
Paessler PRTG Windows & hosted version. Yes Learn More
Acrylic Windows. Yes Learn More
Wireshark Linux, Mac OS, Windows, Net BSD, Solaris, etc. Yes Learn More
TCPdump Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, DragonFly BSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, Mac OS, etc. Yes Learn More

1) SolarWinds

SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor offers network insights for deeper visibility of the network. This WiFi sniffer tool is used for fault detection, performance monitoring, and network availability. It allows you to reduce network downtime and helps to resolve Wi-Fi connection problems like network bandwidth issues.

Features:

  • This WiFi sniffer helps you retrieve performance metrics for autonomous wireless controllers, access points, and clients.
  • It uses the system messages sent out by routers and switches instead of capturing network packets from the network.
  • It allows cross-stack network data correlation.
  • Provides better network insights for deeper visibility.
  • It offers visibility on critical network firewalls and load balancers.
  • Supported Platforms: Microsoft Windows Server.


2) Paessler

Paessler PRTG is a WiFi monitoring and analyzer tool that helps you analyze all network devices on your network, including Wi-Fi routers.

Features:

  • PRTG allows you to easily interpret all the data collected on your Wi-Fi connection networks.
  • Allows you to analyze wireless traffic.
  • Provides Four packet sniffer capture sensors.
  • PRTG wireless network monitor offers a LAN sniffer header sensor that helps you configure the network to promptly notify as soon as Wi-Fi networking disruption occurs.
  • Allows you to set the alarm system for your WiFi network.
  • Analyzes every aspect of your wireless networks.
  • Supported Platforms: Windows & hosted version.


3) Acrylic WiFi

Acrylic WiFi is a free wireless network sniffer that allows users to scan and analyze local wireless routers in a compiled table of relevant details. It provides all the important metrics like MAC address, SSID, RSSI, channel, and vendor.

Features:

  • It helps to analyze and resolve the incidences in real-time on 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac networks.
  • It helps you to capture WiFi traffic on Linux systems.
  • It is compatible with most hardware and does not require any special components to function, which makes it affordable, accessible, and easy to acquire.
  • Easily integrates with the latest versions of Wireshark.
  • Compatible with the most common Wi-Fi USB cards on the market and the latest cards.
  • Supported Platform: Windows.

Link: https://www.acrylicwifi.com/en/wlan-wifi-wireless-network-software-tools/wifi-analyzer-acrylic-professional/


4) Wireshark

Wireshark is a wireless network sniffer tool that captures packets in real-time and displays them in a human-readable format. It allows the network admin team to read/write network data and capture it in many file formats.

Features:

  • Captures files compressed with a gzip that can be decompressed on the fly
  • Output can be exported to XML, PostScript, CSV or plain text.
  • Multi-platform Support: Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, and many others.
  • Live data can be read from the Ethernet, PPP/HDLC, Bluetooth, USB, Token Ring, etc.
  • Supported Platform: Windows.

Link: https://www.wireshark.org/


5) Tcpdump

TCPdump offers a command-line packet analyzer and a portable C/C++ library called libpcap to capture the network traffic. It is a good option for the users who wants a simple tool and needs a quick scan.

Features:

  • It helps you perform functions like displaying and saving captured packets to file
  • Dipslay avialble interface.
  • Supproted Platforms: Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, DragonFly BSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, Mac OS, etc.

Link: https://www.tcpdump.org/


6) Omnipeek

Omnipeek is a wirelesss network sniffer tool that helps you to decode more than 1,000 protocols for a faster network. It offers network troubleshooting and diagnostics for network issues.

Features:

  • Intuitive graphic display and visualization
  • Allows you to monitor distributed networks remotely
  • Voice and video monitoring and troubleshooting
  • Helps you to troubleshoot end-users devices remotely
  • Proactively identifies network issues

Link: https://www.liveaction.com/products/omnipeek-network-protocol-analyzer/


7) Aircrack

Aircrack is a wireless password cracking tool that you can use for 802.11a/b/g WEP and WPA cracking. It offers the best WiFi packet sniffing that helps you to recover wireless passwords by capturing packets.

Features:

  • Improved tracking speed
  • Support for fragmentation attacks
  • Monitoring: Packet capture and data export to text files for further processing by third-party tools
  • Supported Platforms: Windows

Link: https://www.aircrack-ng.org/


8) Capsa

Capsa is a network monitoring software used for network performance troubleshooting, Ethernet monitoring, and analysis. It allows users to learn how to perform network sniffing tool activities, find network issues, and enhance network security for free.

Features:

  • Provides improved efficiency to evaluate periodical and occasional network issues, etc.
  • This network performance monitoring tool offers network data storage for weeks or months to browse historical network traffic.
  • Decreased time and efforts need to reconstruct network issue scenarios.

Link: https://www.colasoft.com/capsa/


9) Kismet

Kismet is a wireless network detector and intrusion detection system. It works with WiFi networks but can be expanded via plugins to handle other network types as well.

Features:

  • This WiFi sniffer software allows standard PCAP logging.
  • Offers client/server modular architecture.
  • Plugin architecture to expand core features.
  • Provides multiple capture source support.
  • Distributed remote sniffing via lightweight remote capture.
  • XML output for integration with other tools.

Link: https://www.kismetwireless.net/


10) Riverbed

Riverbed is a real-time network packet analyzer software. It offers packet analysis and reporting of large files. This Wi-Fi analyzer tool offers an intuitive GUI interface and provides a selection of pre-defined analysis views.

Features:

  • This sniffer software helps you to drag and drop preconfigured analysis views.
  • This packet analyzer helps you merge multiple trace files to pinpoint where problems are happening across multiple segments.
  • It helps you to identify and utilize microbursts that can saturate a gigabit network and cause significant damage.

Link: https://www.riverbed.com/sg/products/npm/packet-analyzer.html


11) Fiddler

Fiddler is a web debugging proxy that helps you record and inspect networks from any browser. It also allows you to debug web traffic from any system. You can use this IP sniffer tool with .NET Standard 2.0 version.

Features:

  • You can compose your HTTP requests and run them with Fiddler.
  • It offers information for total page weight, HTTP caching, and compression.
  • This tool allows you to debug traffic virtually from any application that supports a proxy.
  • Supported Platforms: Mac or Linux systems.

Link: https://www.telerik.com/fiddler


12) Ntop

Ntop is a network traffic usage monitor and IP sniffer tool that shows network usage in real-time. It offers an interactive mode that shows the network status on the user’s terminal.

Features:

  • Helps to produce long-term reports for several network metrics, including throughput and L7 application protocols.
  • This wifi packet sniffing tool helps you to analyze IP traffic and sort it according to the source/destination.
  • Allows you to report and assign DHCP IP address usage shorted by protocol type.

Link: https://www.ntop.org/


13) Netresec

Netresec is a WiFi sniffer tool that focuses on the network security field. This software helps you with network forensics and analysis of network traffic.

Features:

  • This WiFi sniffer tool is built in such a way that it is easy to perform advanced network traffic analysis.
  • Netresec is one of the best WiFi sniffer tools that helps you to generate a keyword CSV file when one or several keywords are detected.
  • Netresec can read a custom keyword list and cleartext dictionary from a file using command line arguments.
  • It offers extraction of metadata from PcapNG files.

Link: https://www.netresec.com/


14) Freenetwork

Freenetwork is a free network sniffing tool. It helps you to monitor and analyze all the data coming through your network adapter. This tool provides you with on-the-fly network traffic capture. It also provides the best packet sniffer inspection functionality.

Features:

  • This is one of the best WiFi sniffer tools which allows on-the-fly protocol analysis for real-time applications.
  • This best packet sniffer tool helps your network to run smoothly at high data rates and saves system resources.
  • This free network tool supports advanced data filtering and layout customization.
  • It provides good customer support where you can ask questions and get answers from experts.

Link: https://freenetworkanalyzer.com/

FAQ:

❓ What is WiFi Packet Sniffer?

Wi-Fi Packet Sniffer is a hardware or software that can log or intercept the traffic between two systems. It is also called a Packet Analyzer or Protocol Analyzer.

⚡ How Do Packet Sniffer Apps Work?

Packet sniffer apps intercept network traffic data that pass through a wired or wireless network and copy those data to a file, also known as packet capture. Generally, computers are designed to ignore the traffic activity from other computers while packet sniffers do the reverse process and recognize those data.

🏅 Are WiFi Packet Sniffers Legal?

Yes, it is legal to use WiFi Sniffers for network monitoring. Wifi Packet Sniffer can also be used as a spying tool. Hackers also use it for stealing important data or information.

👉 Why do you need to use a WiFi Analyzer App?

A WiFi analyzer allows a visual display of the network data near your surrounding channels. This app turns your computer or mobile device into an analytics tool that helps you to identify what you do you require to optimize your network.

For example, with a Wi-Fi analyzer app, you can look for other channels on your Wi-Fi sniffer network. This helps you to identify if they are faster than your current system or not.

🚀 What are the Packet Sniffing Best Practices?

Here are some best practices for Packet Sniffing:

  • Knowing the basics helps you to analyze network traffic.You need to know basic networking works. Moreover, knowing about the types of network traffic on a healthy network, like Address Resolution Protocol (ARP), Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), for network management, is key.You should also know what you want from the packet sniffer to collect and have at least a general idea of what is a normal condition and what is not.
  • Copy Conservatively: A Wi-Fi packet sniffers will copy the payload of all packets traveling on the network. It helps you to protect your company and avoid putting sensitive information.
  • Monitor Storage Space: Even if you just capturing packet headers or storing all the packets which can consume a large amount of your disk space. It is best to copy every tenth packet rather than copying every single one. This is known as packet sampling, and it is a practice used to characterize network traffic.
  • Decode the Data: You need to select a packet LAN sniffer which is able to decode this administrative information and extract other valuable insights. Like varying port numbers between two packet travel.

❗ What are the types of Packet Spoofing Attacks?

Here are some important types of Spoofing:

  • IP address spoofing: It occurs at the network level.
  • Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) spoofing: It always happens at the data link layer.
  • Domain Name System (DNS) spoofing: Helps you turn away Internet traffic from legitimate servers to fake servers.
  • Email spoofing: While IP sniffing has been a cybersecurity threat, the Covid environment has built new opportunities for carrying email spoofing. In email spoofing, a link is given in the email which users click but they do not receive the expected information.

❓ What do PCAP (Packet Capture Application Programming) tools do?

PCAP is a short form of “Packet Capture Application Programming.” A PCAP tool copies packets as they can travel around the network. These captured packets are displayed in a viewer and stored in a file.

PCAP copies all the packets including the data payload. In contrast, other tools only display and store packet headers.

⚡ How does a Packet Analyzer work?

Packet sniffer copies data as it travels across a network and makes it available for viewing. The sniffing device copies all of the data that passes over a network.

Mostly, the packets of data that are reaped from the network get copied to a file. However, packet sniffers can collect lots of data, which includes encoded admin team information. You should find an analysis tool that helps you be dereferencing information on the journey of the packets and other pieces of information. Like the relevance of the port numbers that the packets travel between.

A straightforward Wi-Fi packet sniffer will copy all the packets traveling on the cisco network. This can be a serious problem if the packet contents are not required by network performance analysis.

So, to track the cisco network usage for 24 hours or over a few days, storing every packet will occupy a large amount of disk space. Therefore, it is good to sample and copy every 10th or 20th packet instead of copying over every single one.

🏅 Can Packet Sniffing be detected?

You can detect Packet sniffing in certain circumstances. The solution to finding packet capture depends on the packet sniffer’s location and the method it uses. A software packet sniffing tool requires that the host computer’s network adapter is in promiscuous mode. Issuing a ping with the right IP address and wrong MAC address for each computer on the network will spot the hosts that are in promiscuous mode and likely using packet sniffing.

👉 What is full packet capture?

Full packet capture copies all packets stored in a file with the .pcap extension. Businesses often do not like network professionals to use such a method because the packet contents may not be encrypted.

Allowing the use of full packet capture capabilities may break the confidentiality of data held by the enterprise and data security standards compliance.

🚀 How easy is IP Spoofing?

IP spoofing may not be too difficult if victims fall for an attacker’s phishing emails.

⚡ What does a Wi-Fi sniffer do?

WiFi Packet Sniffers are mostly used for administrative work like penetration testing and traffic monitoring of a network. This tool allows resolving troubleshooting problems within the network infrastructure.

❗ Which are the Best WiFI Sniffer?

Following are some of the best WiFi Sniffer:

  • SolarWinds
  • Paessler
  • Acrylic WiFi
  • Wireshark
  • TCPdump
  • Omnipeek
  • Aircrack
  • Capsa
  • Kismet
  • Riverbed