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I got into penetration testing a couple of weeks ago and just started learning more about wireless attacks and how they are done, and they mention a lot the need of wireless adapters.

Would I still be able to do the attacks without an adapter? How is it needed?

Thank you for reading :)

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    For any type of wireless testing, you at least need a wireless adapter (either internal or a dedicated one) so that you can capture the 802.11 frames and can see what is going through wireless medium. Without an adapter, you can't achieve anything. And as @Hollowproc mentioned, Alpha cards are the recommended one for wireless penetration testing. – Gaurav Kansal Oct 22 '16 at 18:35
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Many of the native wireless cards used in commercial laptops are not capable of packet injection. While you won't need this to monitor network traffic passively, you will need that capability to perform any of the wireless attacks. Furthermore, some of the native cards have compatibility issues with Linux (i.e. driver support isn't great).

For this reason, many of the tutorials out there tend to stick with two well-known and reliable wireless network adapters:

Note: these are not product recommendations, rather frequently used devices in many entry-level wireless pentesting tutorials. I point them out for reference not recommendation. (Though I own -and use- both regularly).

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    In addition to the inability to do packet injection, many of the wireless cards in laptops do not support monitor mode. This mode enables you to sniff all packets in the air so you can identify and focus on your target and do the attack. – Minaj Sep 19 '16 at 5:15

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