11 Best WiFi Sniffers – Wireless Packet Sniffers In 2020

List, Features, and Comparison of the TOP WiFi Sniffers. Learn What is a WiFi Packet Sniffer. Select the Best Sniffer per your Requirements:

What Is WiFi Packet Sniffer?

Packet Sniffer can be a hardware or software that logs the traffic between two computers on a network by obstructing it. They are also called as a Protocol Analyzer or Packet Analyzer.

Wi-Fi Packet Sniffer

What Does A WiFi Sniffer Do?

A device network card is used by the software program to monitor network traffic. Packet Sniffers are used for administrative work like penetration testing and traffic monitoring of a network. This tool helps the network admins with troubleshooting problems.

Fact Check: Packet sniffing has a crucial role in network management. It is used for detecting security loopholes. The best WiFi sniffer works on 2.4 GHz and has the capacity to detect Wi-Fi signals for 8.0.11b and 802.11b/g.

packet sniffer
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Pro Tip: Wi-Fi Sniffer should be portable as well as easy and convenient to carry. You can look for a device that has the capacity of getting around other interferences like cell phones, Bluetooth devices, etc. Some WiFi Sniffers have the capacity to capture wireless signals regardless of their surroundings.

While selecting the WiFi Sniffer, consider its ability to monitor, intercept, and decode the data. It should have features and functionalities for diagnosing & investigating network problems, monitoring network usage, discovering vulnerabilities, identifying configuration issues & network bottlenecks, and filtering network traffic.

WiFi Packet Sniffers: Legal or Illegal?

It is legal to use WiFi Sniffers for administrative work or network monitoring. Wi-Fi Packet Sniffer has the ability to work as a spying tool. It is also used by hackers for stealing information and data. By using them with other tools, malware and malicious content can be delivered through manipulated packets. These types of use cases are illegal.

Public wireless networks are more vulnerable to packet sniffing attacks. So, to protect yourself from such attacks, avoid using public networks and use HTTPS. It can prevent packet sniffers from monitoring the traffic for the websites you visit. VPNs can protect you from network sniffers.

To protect the network from packet sniffers, encryption like TLS or SSL is used. Encryption will not allow changing or adding the data in wifi sniffers.

Uses of Wireless Network Sniffers

Wi-Fi sniffers are used for network analysis & troubleshooting, performance analysis & benchmarking, and eavesdropping for clear-text passwords. The right WiFi sniffer can detect the network issue before it’s occurrence. It identifies the external network connectivity issues that help with maintaining the network’s Wi-Fi uptime.

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List Of Best WiFi Packet Sniffers

  1. SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor
  2. Paessler Packet Capture
  3. Acrylic Wi-Fi
  4. TCPdump
  5. Wireshark
  6. ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer
  7. Fiddler
  8. EtherApe
  9. Kismet
  10. Capsa
  11. Ettercap

Comparison Of Best WiFi Sniffers

Wi-Fi Packet SnifferTool DescriptionFeaturesPlatformFree TrialPrice
SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor

Solarwinds_Logo
Wi-Fi Packet Sniffer comes with Network Performance Monitor.Detailed insights, Deep packet inspection, User Interface, etc.WindowsAvailable for 30 days.The price starts at $2995.
Paessler Packet Capture

Paessler_Logo
Packet Capture Tool.All in one monitoring tool and can monitor web traffic, mail traffic, file transfer traffic, etc.Windows & hosted version.Available for 30 daysFree plan available.
The license price starts at $1600 for 500 sensors.
Acrylic WiFi

Acrylic_Logo
Wi-Fi AnalyzerIdentify transmission speeds and optimizes Wi-Fi channels for better bandwidth.WindowsAvailable for 5 Days1-Year License: $19.95.
Perpetual License: $39.95.
TCPdump

TCPDump_Logo
Data Network Packet Analyzer.Command-line packet sniffing tool, Provides all the required packet information, etc.Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, DragonFly BSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, Mac OS, etc.--Free.
Wireshark

Wirehark_Logo
Network Protocol AnalyzerA popular tool for packet capturing and data analysisLinux, Mac OS, Windows, Net BSD, Solaris, etc.--Free & open-source.

#1) SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor

Best for small to large businesses.

SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor Pricing: A free trial is available for 30 days. The price starts at $2995.

SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor

SolarWinds WiFi Packet Sniffer comes with SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor.

This WiFi sniffer monitors for fault, performance, and availability. It will reduce downtime and help with resolving WiFi bandwidth issues. For immediate visual correlation across all of your network data, the tool provides the facility to drag-and-drop WiFi performance metrics.

Features:

  • WiFi sniffer management can retrieve performance metrics for autonomous access points, wireless controllers, and clients.
  • It provides cross-stack network data correlation and hop-by-hop network path analysis.
  • It will provide visibility on critical network firewalls and load balancers.
  • It will provide the network insight for Cisco ASA and F5 BIG-IP that will make it easier to manage complex network devices.

Verdict: SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor has the capacity to perform wireless network monitoring. It has the NetPath feature to view the performance, traffic, and configuration details of devices & apps for on-premises, in the cloud or hybrid environments.


#2) Paessler Packet Capture

Best for small to large businesses.

Paessler Packet Capture Pricing: Paessler offers a free trial of unlimited version for 30 days. The free version is also available for PRTG. It is free up to 100 sensors. Its license price starts at $1600 for 500 sensors.

Paessler

Paessler Packet Capture is the all in one monitoring tool that can monitor data traffic and analyze data packets. It uses packet sniffers and NetFlow, IPFIX, sFlow, & jFlow. It monitors IP packets and filtering according to UDP and TCP packets. PRTG can monitor packets on the router, switch, server, and VMware. It will notify the potential issues.

Features:

  • Paessler Packet Capture has a packet sniffing sensor that monitors web traffic, mail traffic, file transfer traffic, infrastructure traffic, remote control traffic, etc.
  • It contains the NetFlow sensors for Cisco routers and switches.
  • It supports using Juniper routers or switches by providing JFLOW sensors.

Verdict: PRTG has the advantages of quick setup, custom filters, easy to understand dashboard, and long-term analysis. Your system might get strained as this sniffer analyzes the header of data packets.


#3) Acrylic WiFi Professional

Best for small to large businesses.

Price: Acrylic WiFi Professional 1 Year License is available for $19.95. It will be the ideal license for personal use. Perpetual License is available for $39.95. It is the best option for corporate users.

Acrylic WiFi Professional

Acrylic WiFi Professional is a perfect tool for advanced users, professional WiFi network analysts, and administrators.

Acrylic WiFi has various WiFi Software for Windows. It is the WiFi Analyzer that provides the functionalities for analyzing the WiFi network health, finding out the best channel for the WiFi network and any AP misconfiguration. It will help you to find out the rogue APs and non-authorized devices.

This tool will help you with troubleshooting through a detailed quality assessment, identifying network problems, providing information about network performance, and helping to improve the performance of your WiFi network.

Features:

  • You can add devices to inventory and view connected devices.
  • With the monitor mode, it can identify client devices, capture all types of packets, and show SNR using the AirPCAP card.
  • It provides the facility to save the analyzed device inventories.
  • It can work with pcap files.
  • Generate result reports in HTML, CSV, and TXT.
  • You can export GPS data to KML files for Google Earth.

Verdict: Acrylic WiFi is the best solution for identifying access points, WiFi channels, and for analyzing & resolving incidences on 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax wireless networks in real-time. It will help you to identify transmission speeds and optimize WiFi channels for better bandwidth.

Website: Acrylic WiFi Professional


#4) TCPdump

Price: TCPdump is available for free.

TCPdump

TCPdump provides a command-line packet analyzer, libpcap, and a portable C/C++ library to capture the network traffic. Initially, it was made for UNIX systems. It comes with almost all UNIX-like OS. It doesn’t require a heavy-duty PC to function smoothly. It is a command-line packet sniffing tool so you can start sniffing quickly.

There is a learning curve for this tool. It can use the basic as well as complex codes and hence some times, it might be required to master on this tool.

Features:

  • Using the short and simple commands you can perform the functions like displaying the available interfaces, saving captured packets to file, and capturing only failed packets, etc.
  • TCPdump is a good option for users who wants a simple tool and needs a quick scan.
  • It can be used on Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, DragonFly BSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, Mac OS, etc.

Verdict: Though it doesn’t provide a good user interface, you will get to see all the required packet information that will be helpful in determining the source of the network problem. Get acquainted with this tool and can identify the reasons for network issues.

Website: TCPdump


#5) Wireshark

Best for small to large businesses.

Price: Wireshark is a free and open-source tool.

Wireshark

Wireshark is one of the popular network protocol analyzers. It supports cross-platform. It allows output export to various formats like XML, PostScript, CSV, or Plain text. It has the capacity to read the live data from Ethernet, IEEE 802.11, PPP/HDLC, ATM, Bluetooth, USB, Token Ring, Frame Relay, FDDI, etc. Wireshark provides GUI to browse through captured network data.

Features:

  • Wireshark supports decryption for protocols like IPsec, ISAKMP, Kerberos, SNMPv3, SSL/TLS, WEP, and WPA/WPA2.
  • It provides the features of live capture and offline analysis.
  • It has powerful display filters.
  • It can perform VoIP analysis.

Verdict: Wireshark can perform a deep inspection of hundreds of protocols. Apply coloring rules to the packet list for quick and intuitive analysis.

Website: Wireshark


#6) ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer

Best for small to large businesses.

Price: You can try the ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer for 30 days. There are two editions, Essential ($595 for 10 interfaces) and Enterprise ($1295 for 10 interfaces).

ManageEngine

ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer is a traffic analytics tool that uses flow technologies. It will give you real-time visibility into network bandwidth performance. It provides support to leading flow technologies like NetFlow, sFlow, IPFIX, Netstream, J-Flow, and AppFlow.

Features:

  • ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer monitors network bandwidth and traffic patterns at an interface-specific level.
  • You can discover traffic patterns and device performance by drilling down into interface level details.
  • It can provide real-time insight for your network bandwidth with one-minute granularity reports.
  • It can track the network anomalies that surpass your network firewall.

Verdict: This bandwidth monitoring tool collect, analyze, and report about your network bandwidth. NetFlow Analyzer identifies context-sensitive anomalies and zero-day intrusions.

Website: ManageEngine NetFlow Analyzer


#7) Fiddler

Best for small to large businesses.

Price: Fiddler is available for free. Fiddler Enterprise Priority support is available for $999 per user.

Fiddler

Fiddler, a web debugging proxy, logs all HTTP(S) traffic between the computer and the internet. You can record, inspect, and debug traffic from any browser. It will let you debug web traffic from any system. You can use Telerik Fiddler with any platform even with .NET Standard 2.0. It is the part of developer productivity tools that will be useful for .NET and Java developers.

You can configure Fiddler for decrypting all traffic or specific sessions. You can choose a particular level of the protocol stack to concentrate on. It can capture the data from a live network connection or by reading Tcpdump capture.

Features:

  • It will be easier to edit web sessions with Fiddler. You just have to set the breakpoint to pause the processing of the session and permit alteration of the request.
  • You can compose your own HTTP requests and run them with Fiddler.
  • It provides information for total page weight, HTTP caching, and compression.
  • It will allow you to isolate performance bottlenecks by using the rules.
  • It has features for HTTP/HTTPS Traffic recording. You can debug traffic virtually from any application that supports a proxy.

Verdict: Fiddler can read the live data from Ethernet, FDDI, PPP, SLIP, and WLAN interfaces and various encapsulated formats like PPI. It supports various frames of packet types like IPv6 and IGMP.

Website: Fiddler


#8) EtherApe

Price: EtherApe is a free and open-source tool.

EtherApe

This graphical network monitor is for UNIX models. It provides the features of link-layer and IP & TCP modes. It can show the network activity graphically. It will display color-coded protocols. It provides support to Ethernet, FDDI, Token Ring, ISDN, PPP, SLIP and WLAN devices, and various encapsulation formats. It has the capacity to read packets from a file and the network.

Features:

  • EtherApe will allow you to filter the traffic that is shown.
  • You can export the node statistics to the XML file.
  • You can refine the data displayed by using a network filter using pcap syntax.
  • By making the use of standard libc functions, name resolution can be done and hence it supports DNS, hosts file, etc.
  • Global traffic statistics by the protocol can be seen through the protocol summary dialog.
  • You can center a single node on display and arrange the various user-chosen nodes in an inner circle with other nodes around.

Verdict: EtherApe will allow you to look at the traffic that is within your network, end-to-end IP, or port to port TCP. It can show a protocol breakdown and other traffic statistics for a particular link or node. It has an alternative display node that will arrange nodes in columns.

Website: EtherApe


#9) Kismet

Price: Kismet is a free tool.

Kismet

Kismet tool works as a wireless network & device detector, sniffer, wardriving tool, and WIDS framework. It has the capacity to work with WiFi interfaces, Bluetooth interfaces, Software Defined Radio hardware, and some specialized capture hardware. It supports Linux, OSX, and provides limited support to Windows 10 under the WSL framework.

Features:

  • Kismet can detect the presence of both wireless access points and wireless clients and associate them with each other.
  • It has basic wireless IDS features.
  • It can log all sniffed packets and save them in a Tcpdump/Wireshark compatible file format.
  • It can determine the level of wireless encryption used on a given access point.
  • It provides support for channel hopping to find all the possible networks.

Verdict: Kismet is a popular and up to date open source wireless monitoring tool. It has the ability to detect unconfigured networks and probe requests.

Website: Kismet


#10) Capsa

Price: Capsa provides a free edition for students, teachers, and computer geeks. Its enterprise edition is available for $995. The free trial is available for 30 days for the Capsa Enterprise edition.

Capsa

Capsa is a network analyzer and packet sniffer. This network analyzer is a freeware and works for Ethernet monitoring, troubleshooting, and analysis. It will help you with network activities, pinpointing network problems, and enhancing network security.

With Enterprise edition you will get unlimited IP addresses and unlimited session timeout length. You can manually save the files.

Capsa supports network TAP and Multiple Adapters. It has features of real-time Packet capture. It supports more than 1800 protocols and sub-protocols that includes VoIP and network applications. It can monitor and store e-mail and instant messaging traffic.

Features:

  • Capsa will provide extensive statistics for each host. You can map the traffic, IP addresses and MAC of each host on the network. This will make it easy to identify each host and the traffic passing through it.
  • Capsa Enterprise is the solution with features of real-time packet capture, advanced protocol analysis, user-friendly dashboard, multiple network behavior monitoring, quickly pinpointing network problems and extensive statistics of each host.
  • It has ARP Attack view, Worm View, DoS Attacking View, DoS Attacked View, and Suspicious Conversation View.

Verdict: Capsa can quickly point network problems like detecting suspicious hosts. It is a powerful and comprehensive packet capture and analysis tool. It provides an easy-to-use interface for experienced as well as new users.

Website: Capsa


#11) Ettercap

Price: Ettercap is available for free.

Ettercap

Ettercap is the tool for sniffing live connections. It can perform content filtering on the fly. It has features for network and host analysis. Active and passive dissection of several protocols is supported by Ettercap. It supports Ubuntu, Fedora, Gentoo, Pentoo, Mac OS, FreeBSD, Open BSD, and NetBSD. It works in the four modes of operation: IP-based, MAC-based, ARP based, and PublicARP-based.

Features:

  • You can create custom plugins with the help of Ettercap’s API.
  • You can kill the connection from the connections list.
  • It can determine the OS of the victim host and its network adapter.
  • It has features for packet filtering and dropping. `
  • It has the capacity to sniff an SSH connection in full-duplex.

Verdict: This network security tool is used for network protocol analysis and security auditing. It has the capacity to intercept traffic on a network segment. It can capture passwords and conduct active eavesdropping against various common protocols.

Website: Ettercap


Conclusion

Packet Sniffers helps developers and administrators with debugging internet applications and diagnosing network problems. We have reviewed some of the top tools of packet sniffing out of which TCPdump, Wireshark, Fiddler, EtherApe, Ettercap, and Kismet are free tools. SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor and Acrylic WiFi Professional are commercial tools.

We hope this article will help you with choosing the right packet sniffer.

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Review Process:

  • Time taken to research this article: 26 Hours
  • Total tools researched: 17
  • Top tools shortlisted: 11