Reflecting back on a post titled, “Protecting Your Wireless Network” , which was intended to give you insight about the security vulnerabilities in wireless networks, I came across a small utility, called WirelessNetView (by NirSoft) that may be helpful to you in maintaining the security of your wireless connection(s). WirelessNetView gives you the enhanced ability to visually monitor your wireless connection, as well as any other wireless connections within your range. Basically, I use it as a wireless security tool. If I can see my neighbor’s wireless network, then that tells me, they can see mine. The neat thing about WirelessNetView is that it will also show the following details about the network(s), including your own. I did some of my own research to break down what each of the details mean to educate you and me (see descriptors below). WirelessNetView only works on a PC or Notebook computer that has a wireless network adapter (for example: nearly all modern notebook computers have a wireless adapter built in). Please visit WirelessNetView’s website (at NirSoft) for the download and installation requirements.
SSID – Service Set Identifier (This is network name. Usually, you will see the router brand name (i.e. Netgear, Linksys, etc.), due most people do not change the name.)
Last Signal Quality – WirelessNetView checks the signal every 10 seconds and provides a percentage of what the quality is at the end of each 10 second interval.
Average Signal Quality – The average quality of the signal is provided, in percentage, during the overall runtime of the program for each connection that it sees.
Detection Counter – The detection rate is counted at the end of each 10 second interval.
Security Enabled – This tells (yes or no) whether security is in place on the connection.
Connectable – Whether the network is available for connectivity.
Authentication – The protocol being used to authenticate the connection (i.e. 802.11 Open System authentication protocol)
Cipher – Algorithm for performing encryption and decryption (i.e. WEP – Wired Equivalent Privacy or WPA – WiFi Protected Access, which is the better of the two.)
PHY Type – This is the physical layer standard (Usually ERP – Extended Rate).
Detection Dates/Times – When the connection was first detected and when it was last detected.
MAC Address – The station (access point) contain a network interface that has a Media Access Control (MAC) address, just as wired network cards do. This address is a world-wide-unique 48-bit number, assigned to it at the time of manufacture.
RSSI – Received Signal Strength Indication (RSSI) is a measurement of the power present in a received signal. RSSI measurements will vary from 0 to 255 depending on the vendor.
Channel Frequency -Stations communicate with each other using radio channel frequencies between 2.4 GHz and 2.5 GHz.
Channel Number – Wireless routers can broadcast on several different channels, similar to the way radio stations use different channels. In the United States and Canada, these channels are 1, 6, and 11.
If you are interested in WiFi discovery tools, I located (2)-two alternative tools that may be of interest (see below). Both of these tools require running a “setup file” to install.
A fellow tech blogger who I have come to really respect (TechPaul at “Tech-for Everyone”) did some follow-up testing and comparison of WirelessNetview with another popular WiFi discovery tool. Here is TechPaul’s findings:
“Today I want to say that, thanks to your article, I installed WirelessNetView on my laptop and spent some time this morning “wardriving” with the two apps open. A head-to-head network discovery comparison, if you will.
While this was not exactly a scientific test, I can say that my experience was that WNV “saw” more networks than NetStumbler did, and I think it is more ‘intuitive’ for the average user as well.”
I invite everyone to make sure you visit Paul’s site (Tech-for Everyone) for how-to’s and tricks & tips and general computing advice.