Information Security Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for information security professionals. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What needs to be installed to get the full aircrack-ng suite (or the closest possible equivalent) working under Win7?

Should you use VirtualPC, VirtualBox, or VMware Workstation for this?

Should you buy something? Pretend you already have two USB WiFi cards (or one USB and one internal) that are monitor and frame injection capable. Even if this isn't possible with off-the-shelf Atheros radios, then what is the second best option?

What are the steps one needs to follow to make this toolchain capable under Win7?

share|improve this question
I would firstly check if your wi-fi card has monitor mode driver for either windows or linux/unix and then go about the rest of the installation. The installation itself is pretty easy - there are a lot of howto's on it. Also, you may check out Backtrack CD if you are not really familiar with linux and you cant find windows driver. It has pretty sweet setup and is probably the only out-of-box working free product for aircrack-ng + generic drivers. – Sigtran Apr 14 '11 at 9:44
@Sigtran: Pretend I'm at a kiosk running Win7 with admin access, and access to 2 internal WiFi cards (but can't boot a new OS unless it's under virtualization). I know everything about Win7 and Linux that I need to. Now what? – atdre Apr 14 '11 at 16:48
as you have mentioned below, you will need a usb adapter for Virtual system. You however dont need two of them to get iv's. All can be done with just one adapter (need to spoof at least one client for packet injection, whcih can be performed from the same card, which is in monitor mode). Also, you can do just passive sniffing, and for this you definitely only need one card. Once you have the access to the access point, you can do MITM and thus frame injection (MITM can be done by ARP poisoning on most routers). – Sigtran Apr 15 '11 at 8:47
By MITM, I was referring to the EvilTwin/Karma WiFi-MITM attack. By needing two radios, I was referring to getting the most performance out of them. Yes, it's possible to put a card in monitor mode and inject from it after trying to connect -- but not on a heavy trafficked channel with hidden node issues, etc. – atdre Apr 15 '11 at 10:09
Why not just create a live USB or live CD of BackTrack? Would be the easiest solution. And honestly, why use internal WiFi, when you could go snag an ALFA USB adapter (should def get the panel, 7DBi is beast for it) for around 30-40 bucks. Monitor mode capable, packet injection capable. – user18363 Jan 4 '13 at 14:00
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Ok, I found out the basics, but this may change in BackTrack 5. We'll be worried about support for Android devices then! I'll try to post a question.

For now -- here is the current state of existence with regards to WiFi adapter availability from inside a VM, regardless of BT4-in-Win7/Vista/XP or BT4-in-Linux/MacOSX. has an official page on Installing BT4 in VMware. However, this article doesn't specify VMware Player, VMware Workstation, VMware Fusion, VMware ESX, or VMware ESXi (let alone the version numbers). It should work in any of them, but here is a specific guide on VMware Workstation (probably 7.1 -- the latest). There's a nice little YouTube video in the comments section regarding VMware Player, which is nice -- but not extra informative in any particular direction (nor did any of the linked videos, as catchily named as possible, really relate back to the original issue, which is support of WiFi and aircrack-ng).

The main problem is that any WiFi card that works well with aircrack-ng (like the Alfa AWUS036H highly suggested card, which is external USB with the SMA antenna connector) must be USB in order to be accessible from a guest BT4 OS. There are a few comments in this link which discuss this absolute fact.

The good news is that in this article on Using BackTrack Linux 4 in VirtualBox, the most recent commenter says that:

When using VMware (or any hypervisor), you must use a USB wireless adapter. If you are trying to use the host's built-in wireless device, you cannot use it in VMware (or any hypervisor) since the built-in wireless devices will be shown as virtual Ethernet adapters.

Read more:

As an additional nicety, I am also listing two articles on installing the VBox Guest Additions in BT4 -- one from a blog, and the other from the BT forums.

While I don't see a reason to run VMware or Virtual-PC instead of VirtualBox (although I'll certainly try both), what does remain is that in order to complete certain attacks, such as MITM or frame injection along with monitoring maximum performance -- you will need 2 WiFi USB adapters, but it's been that way for Mac OS X and other platforms for about 4 years now.

share|improve this answer
Why not just use boot-cd of a bootable USB for backtrack? This way you will be able to use all internal cards that support monitor mode... – Sigtran Apr 15 '11 at 8:43
@Sigtran: Many computers today and in the future will have neither CDROM/DVD drives or USB ports. For example, most Android devices. – atdre Apr 15 '11 at 9:03
@atdre most of these devices have alternative storage & boot (e.g. SD cards). Also as you have said, for virtual system you will need an external WiFi adapter... not sure how you would go about plugging that in, if you got no USB. Android WiFi (internal) (except N900) doesnt support monitor mode, tho you can install aircrack on it (also, most of them have mini/micro USB ports, which potentially can be used to plug the adapter & USB storage). – Sigtran Apr 15 '11 at 9:15
No, I agree that paravirtualization is whats coming next, but as it stands now, you will always have different hardware and solutions to different problems. Tho I can say that if this will be the only solution, then someone will eventually write all the necessary monitor drivers for all the virtual systems. – Sigtran Apr 15 '11 at 9:42
The one setup I used in the past is a backtrack VM on my windows laptop. I used an alfa 500mw abgn usb adapter and it worked fairly well. There's one caveat, after so long (i'm not sure the root of the issue) the adapter would stop responding. This only because an issue if I would leave it go for more than 1.5 hours. On a side note, the alpha i was using is the AWUS050NH with the ralink chip-set. It turns out that it is, in fact, a 500mw adapter and is not FCC compliant (though it has an FCC ID on it, illegitimate of course) – Ormis Apr 15 '11 at 17:48

This is the setup I use for wireless engagements these days.

  • Windows 7/8 Host OS
  • VMWare Workstation 9
  • Lubuntu 12.10 Guest OS

Then add two wireless USB cards (at least one of which with 5GHz cover). At the moment I tend to use an alfa card with external antenna for the 2.4GHz coverage and a D-Link DWA-160 for the 5GHz piece. The USB passthrough from VMWare workstation has been reliable in my experience, although it's sometimes a little random as to whether VMWare will grab a USB device as you connect it to the physical port or whether you need to manually connection it through VM--> Removable devices.

As to whether you could use other virtualization platforms, I don't see any specific reason why not, I'd say that the key point would be the quality of the USB passthrough.

As an aside for the host system piece I'm looking at using a Thinkpad Twist to make use of a tablet form-factor which would run the VMWare setup ok. At the moment the touch drivers seem a bit flaky but I imagine that'll clear up.

To cover android as it gets a mention in comments, at the moment it is possible to get monitor mode but only with very specific hardware and the software is a bit limited. Details on the Android PCAP page. Outside of that there are a number of reasonable stumbler clients for android now, which are useful for tracking down APs that are broadcasting and also for gathering wireless data without toting a laptop around.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.