How to Check If Your Wireless Adapter Supports Monitor Mode

If you are venturing into packet analysis and penetration testing, it is crucial to determine whether your Wi-Fi card supports monitor mode. This mode allows you to capture and analyze network traffic, making it an essential feature for these activities. Before you consider purchasing a separate Wi-Fi USB adapter, you should first check if your existing card supports monitor mode. In this article, we will guide you on how to check if your Wi-Fi card supports monitor mode on Windows, Ubuntu, and macOS.

Check If Wireless Adapter Supports Monitor Mode

1. Windows

In Windows, there is no direct command to check or enable monitor mode on your Wi-Fi card. However, you can use a tool called Microsoft Network Monitor. Although this tool is currently in the archival state, it is fully compatible with Windows 10.

To check if your Wi-Fi card supports monitor mode in Windows, follow these steps:

  1. Download and install the Microsoft Network Monitor tool.
  2. Reboot your system to allow the tool to detect the network cards.
  3. Launch the app and click on “New Capture” on the Start page.
  4. On the New Capture tab, select only the Wi-Fi card for packet capturing.
  5. Start capturing the packets and check if any errors occur. If the packets are successfully captured, it means your Wi-Fi card supports monitor mode.

Alternatively, you can also use the Wireshark network monitoring tool to achieve the same result.

2. macOS

To check if your Wi-Fi card supports monitor mode in macOS, you can use the Wireless Diagnostics tool. Follow these steps:

  1. Launch the Wireless Diagnostics tool by searching for it in Spotlight or by clicking the Wi-Fi icon in the toolbar while holding down the option key and selecting Open Wireless Diagnostics.
  2. In the Wireless Diagnostics tool, press ⌘ +⌥ +6 or go to the Window menu and click on “Sniffer” to launch the Sniffer window.
  3. Start scanning by clicking on the Start button in the Sniffer window.
  4. If the sniffer tool runs successfully and your Wi-Fi icon shows that it is in monitor mode, it means your Wi-Fi card supports monitor mode. If there are any errors, it means your Wi-Fi card does not support monitor mode.

Please note that when your Wi-Fi is in monitor mode, you will not be able to access the Internet. To regain Internet access, stop the Sniffer tool.

3. Ubuntu

In Ubuntu, the process of checking if your Wi-Fi card supports monitor mode is relatively simple and does not require any additional tools. Follow these steps:

  1. Open a terminal and enter the command ip a to display all the network interfaces on your system.
  2. Identify the Wi-Fi interface name based on the IP address and state (usually UP).
  3. Turn off the Wi-Fi interface using the command sudo ip link set dev [interface name] down, replacing [interface name] with the name of your Wi-Fi interface.
  4. Switch the Wi-Fi card to monitor mode using the command sudo iwconfig [interface name] mode monitor.
  5. Verify if the Wi-Fi card is in monitor mode by running the command iwconfig. If it shows the Wi-Fi card in monitor mode, it means your Wi-Fi card supports monitor mode.

To revert the Wi-Fi card back to managed mode and regain Internet access, use the commands sudo iwconfig [interface name] mode managed and sudo ip link set dev [interface name] up.

By following these methods, you can determine whether your Wi-Fi card supports monitor mode, allowing you to proceed with network analysis and testing. However, keep in mind that Windows 10 and macOS are not designed to be used as network servers or security analyzers. For more advanced capabilities, you may need to switch to specialized operating systems like Kali Linux or Parrot OS.

If your Wi-Fi card does not support monitor mode, you can consider purchasing a Wi-Fi USB adapter that does support it. Some recommended options include Alfa AWUSO36NH, Alfa AWUS036NHA, or Realtek RTL8812AU.

It is important to note that while most Android smartphones support monitor mode, you would need root access and specific apps like zAnti or cSploit to capture network traffic. On the other hand, iPhone devices typically do not support monitor mode, even after jailbreaking.

In Ubuntu, you can further enhance your network analysis and testing capabilities by installing terminal-based networking tools like Aircrack-ng or hcxtools.

Now that you know how to check if your Wi-Fi card supports monitor mode, you can proceed with your network analysis and testing. If you have any questions or encounter any issues, feel free to leave a comment below.

Read More: 5 Best Network Monitoring Tools for Windows

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