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7 free Wi-Fi stumbling and surveying tools for Windows and Mac

Eric Geier | May 27, 2015
Here are 7 tools that provide important details on known and unknown aspects of your WiFi network.

Following up on our previous article highlighting 8 free Wi-Fi stumbling and surveying tools, here are 7 more tools that provide important details on known and unknown aspects of your WiFi network.

Though enterprise-level solutions like AirMagnet Wi-Fi Analyzer and Ekahau Spectrum Analyzer have much more functionality, the free tools discussed here can be useful in a number of scenarios. For smaller networks, you might be able to get away with just using simple freeware tools for all of your Wi-Fi surveying needs. For larger wireless LANs (WLAN), these tools come in handy for a quick peek at the airwaves during design, deployment, or troubleshooting. (See screenshots from each of these products here.)

Each of these tools gives you the basic wireless details: SSIDs, signal strength, channels, MAC addresses, and security status. Some can even reveal "hidden" or non-broadcasted SSIDs, display the noise levels, or display statistics on successful and failed packets of your wireless connection. Two of the tools include Wi-Fi password cracking tools as well, useful for educational or penetration testing purposes.

Tarlogic Security offers Acrylic WiFi Free for non-commercial use, in addition to a paid/commercial version with more features. Both editions support a monitor or promiscuous mode to capture more traffic and have a built-in simple brute-force password cracking utility to test password security.

We found the free edition has a simple but attractive and user-friendly GUI. You always see the list of SSIDs and their details on the top portion of the application. Among the usual details, negative dBm values are shown for RSSI, it can distinguish 802.11ac, and it recognizes larger bandwidths and the multiple channels utilized. Any hidden SSIDs that are discovered from captured packets will be shown. For SSIDs with clients attached, you can expand that SSID on the list to see details of connected clients.

The application also has an inventory feature so you can assign and save names to detected SSIDs and/or clients, but the free edition limits you to five entries.

On the bottom portion of the application, you can tab between graphs and lists. One graph shows each SSID's signal strength and there's a graph for each band to help visualize channel usage and signal strength at the same time. There's a tab to see a list of clients that have specifically requested an SSID and then a tab to use when testing password security with its built-in bruteforce cracker.

There is no exporting or saving functionality for the details you capture, except for its unique Tweet feature that allows you to post a screenshot to Twitter.

Overall, Acrylic WiFi Free is a feature-rich Wi-Fi stumbler. It displays both textual and graphical details, great for simple Wi-Fi surveying needs as long as you don't need to save the data. Its hidden SSID and password cracking features are good bonuses.


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