It's Not Sniffing, but It's Unique and It's Free

I try my best to stick to real WiFi sniffing when doing this blog, but sometimes a new product comes along that is close enough that it deserves a mention. Meraki, the WiFi infrastructure vendor that specialized in cloud-based management of APs, has released a web-based tool called Meraki WiFi Stumbler. It's not a sniffer in that it doesn't capture frames or identify stations, but it does do typical stumbling functions without requiring an installed application, which is unique.

Meraki Stumbler is a free, Java-based tool that is available at the Meraki website. It's completely web-based, so you don't need to run a separate application.

The app is intentionally simple. It gives you basic 802.11 discovery information like SSID, security, signal strength, BSSID and channel. It does support both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, so you'll see and 802.11a/b/g/n APs in the area. The one oddity is that it ostensibly reads signal strength in dB (I'm assuming they mean dBm, to be precise), but higher integers correspond with a higher signal. In WiFi your received signal strength is always going to be in a negative number when read in dBm, so that means that a high integer would correspond to a low signal. My assumption here is that they are actually giving you a signal strength reading as a percentage, but that one of their developers mistakenly included the term "dB" when showing the signal strength.

As I wrote in the intro, the Meraki WiFi Stumbler is not really a sniffer in that it keeps your adapter in managed mode (working as a station). To do any real sniffing you need your WiFi adapter to be in monitor mode so that it can capture frames. Without capturing frames you can't see stations, you can't uncover non-broadcasting SSIDs and you can't troubleshoot performance problems by looking at things like data rates and Retry percentages.

Even with these limitations, I kind of like having the Meraki WiFi Stumbler available. It's something that may allow me to run one less app when I want to view basic WiFi information and it works across operating systems. I will say that I wonder when I'd actually use it (especially considering the fact that usually when I want a stumbler it's because I lack an Internet connection and this one requires an Internet connection to operate), but it's definitely something to keep in the back of my mind.


Popular posts from this blog

Spectrum Deception

Free Sniffing in Windows! (Kind Of)

What's New (and Missing) in the WiFi for iPhone 6