NetStumbler – Windows Freeware to Detects Insecure Wireless Networks


Another one from the old school, this tool has been around forever since way before wardriving was fashionable and when people still used pringles cans for antenna boosting.

It’s a favourite amongst Windows users, although it can’t do any real hacking (like breaking a WEP key) – it’s extremely fast and effecient in the detection of open WAPs.

What is NetStumbler?

NetStumbler is a tool for Windows that allows you to detect Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs) using 802.11b, 802.11a and 802.11g. It has many uses:

  • Verify that your network is set up the way you intended.
  • Find locations with poor coverage in your WLAN.
  • Detect other networks that may be causing interference on your network.
  • Detect unauthorized “rogue” access points in your workplace.
  • Help aim directional antennas for long-haul WLAN links.
  • Use it recreationally for WarDriving.

General Requirements

The requirements for NetStumbler are somewhat complex and depend on hardware, firmware versions, driver versions and operating system. The best way to see if it works on your system is to try it.

Some configurations have been extensively tested and are known to work. These are detailed at http://www.stumbler.net/compat. If your configuration works but is not listed, or is listed but does not work, please follow the instructions on the web site.

The following are rules of thumb that you can follow in case you cannot reach the web site for some reason.

  • This version of NetStumbler requires Windows 2000, Windows XP, or better.
  • The Proxim models 8410-WD and 8420-WD are known to work. The 8410-WD has also been sold as the Dell TrueMobile 1150, Compaq WL110, Avaya Wireless 802.11b PC Card, and others.
  • Most cards based on the Intersil Prism/Prism2 chip set also work.
  • Most 802.11b, 802.11a and 802.11g wireless LAN adapters should work on Windows XP. Some may work on Windows 2000 too. Many of them report inaccurate Signal strength, and if using the “NDIS 5.1” card access method then Noise level will not be reported. This includes cards based on Atheros, Atmel, Broadcom, Cisco and Centrino chip sets.
  • I cannot help you figure out what chip set is in any given card.

Firmware Requirements

If you have an old WaveLAN/IEEE card then please note that the WaveLAN firmware (version 4.X and below) does not work with NetStumbler. If your card has this version, you are advised to upgrade to the latest version available from Proxim’s web site. This will also ensure compatibility with the 802.11b standard.

You can download NetStumbler 0.4.0 here:

NetStumblerInstaller_0_4_0.exe

Or read more here (tutorial here).

Posted in: Hacking Tools, Networking Hacking, Wireless Hacking

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3 Responses to NetStumbler – Windows Freeware to Detects Insecure Wireless Networks

  1. Tim October 9, 2008 at 12:03 pm #

    Just wanted to note that netstumbler does not work on Vista. There is a VistaStumbler available – for those poor individuals stuck with Vista

  2. Morgan Storey October 10, 2008 at 12:36 am #

    Also a good note that netstumbler does active scanning, so it can be considered illegal in some countries, it also has issues with finding networks that have their ssid turned off. Long live kismet, a passive scanner that shows hidden networks and doesn’t touch the networks it does find.
    Though netstumbler is a good start, it is also useful to graphically show people how far their signal permeates (sp?) out onto the street etc.

  3. Pantagruel October 11, 2008 at 6:54 am #

    @ Morgan Storey

    Actively scanning for an open AP can indeed be considered illegal. Try testing every door in your neighbourhood, your bound to get attention from people or the police.

    @ Tim

    Indeed those poor souls who have yet to see the light, the light of a bright *bsd star ;)