I guess that this is a dumb question, but i really thought for a longtime that the wireless sniffing attack consists of listening to all the packets that get over the air, but apparently it isn't that, cause no matter how I try, i can only see my traffic with wireshark (even in promiscuous mode).

So what is the wireless sniffing attack, how is it done, and what is the damage that it can do.

PS : I've tried wireshark both on Ubuntu 15.10 (with Linux version > 4), and on Windows 7.

  • Are you running Wireshark in Windows? Promiscuous mode does not work very well in Windows.
    – AstroDan
    Feb 29, 2016 at 21:12
  • I am running wireshark in Ubuntu 15.10 , i should of mention that in my question.
    – Sidahmed
    Feb 29, 2016 at 21:14
  • Are you trying to listen to other people's network traffic remotely? Feb 29, 2016 at 21:22
  • Describe your network ifrastrucutre. Is it ad-hoc/iBSS? BSS? or ESS? Does you access point use WEP, WPA or WPA-2 (aka IEEE 802.11i)? In case of .11i with AES cipher you may be able to sniff data but not decrypt it.
    – user996142
    Feb 29, 2016 at 21:25
  • One more question: what is your network card and driver? Driver should support " tmac80211 framework" to enable promis. mode in Linux. In Windows, how ever, almost no driver support it (except special cards). Check this link: wiki.wireshark.org/CaptureSetup/WLAN#Linux
    – user996142
    Feb 29, 2016 at 21:30

2 Answers 2


So what is the wireless sniffing attack

It is capturing packets (recording some traffic) that traverse your wireless network, without you knowing about it.

how is it done

You need a network card that supports monitor mode, an OS and version that properly supports delivering traffic captured in monitor mode, and drivers that properly support it. Linux is your best bet here.

In this mode, your wireless card will receive packets without having to be associated to an AP. It will capture all traffic it hears on a given Wifi channel. Other STAs or APs won't know this is happening.

This is different than promiscuous mode - a wireless NIC has to be associated before promiscuous mode will work. Monitor mode has no such requirement.

what is the damage that it can do

  • Collect valid MAC addresses to bypass SSID hiding.

  • Passively and undetectably collect data needed to break WEP/WPA (not WPA2) encryption.

  • Receive all data transmitted/received on open networks/networks without encryption, with the ability to read any plaintext information.

  • Thanks Bro, I did try with the promiscous mode when I am connected to the AP, but even in that mode, it only shows my packets, what is the problem here !!??
    – Sidahmed
    Feb 29, 2016 at 22:29
  • The problem here is that you're using promiscuous mode, not monitor mode. As has been pointed out in other answers and comments, they're not the same mode, and, on a Wi-Fi network, you need monitor mode to capture other hosts' traffic. Monitor mode is available on Ubuntu, but not Windows, in Wireshark, but, currently, it's complicated on Linux.
    – user26774
    Feb 29, 2016 at 23:37
  • AP may be in isolation mode and not letting you see other STA traffic.
    – LawrenceC
    Feb 29, 2016 at 23:41

So lets say you got an normal wifi network with wpa 2 encryption.

First you need to ensure your card is in monitor mode and listening on the channel the AP is transmitting on.

Now you are going to capture all the packets. But they won't make sense since they are encrypted But then you will of course say I got the key well you do but the key is only used to encrypt the 4 way handshake which occurs when a client associates with the ap after that the client and the AP encrypt the traffic with what is stated in the 4way handshake.

So what you need to do is to capture the 4 way handshake. This can be done easily with wireshark. But you need to wait for somebody to connect to the AP so that you can capture this 4 way handshake.

This would take a long time good thing there is this awesome toolkit made by mistrx called aircrack-Ng which allows you to do mess around with wifi and even deauthenticate sombody which are authenticated making the handshake occur again.

What you do is this Aireplay-Ng -0 1 -a [mac of ap] -c [mac to deauth] (name of wifi card)

You should have wireshark running already for this

You should then or even before go to (in wireshark) Edit->prefrences->protocols->iee 802.11 and ad your keys If you have any difficulty You could follow this


Stay safe

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