Kali Linux Wireless Penetration Testing Beginner's Guide - Third Edition

5 (3 reviews total)
By Cameron Buchanan , Vivek Ramachandran
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  1. Wireless Lab Setup

About this book

As wireless networks become ubiquitous in our lives, wireless penetration testing has become a key skill in the repertoire of the professional penetration tester. This has been highlighted again recently with the discovery of the KRACK attack which enables attackers to potentially break into Wi-Fi networks encrypted with WPA2. The Kali Linux security distribution comes with a myriad of tools used for networking attacks and detecting security loopholes.

Kali Linux Wireless Penetration Testing Beginner's Guide, Third Edition has been updated to Kali Linux 2017.3 with the latest methodologies, including full coverage of the KRACK attack and how to defend against it. The book presents wireless pentesting from the ground up, introducing all elements of penetration testing with each new technology. You'll learn various wireless testing methodologies by example, from the basics of wireless routing and encryption through to detailed coverage of hacking methods and attacks such as the Hirte and Caffe Latte.

Publication date:
December 2017


Chapter 1. Wireless Lab Setup


"If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend six hours sharpening my axe."

 --Abraham Lincoln, 16th US President

Behind every successful execution is hours or days of preparation, and wireless penetration testing is no exception. In this chapter, we will create a wireless lab that we will use for our experiments in this book. Consider this lab as your preparation arena before you dive into real-world penetration testing!

Wireless penetration testing is a practical subject, and it is important to first set up a lab, where we can try out all the different experiments in this book in a safe and controlled environment. It is important that you set up this lab first before moving on in this book.

In this chapter, we will take a look at the following:

  • Hardware and software requirements

  • Installing Kali

  • Setting up an access point and configuring it

  • Installing the wireless card

  • Testing connectivity between the laptop and the access point

So let the games begin!


Hardware requirements

We will need the following hardware to set up the wireless lab:

  • Two laptops with internal Wi-Fi cards: We will use one of the laptops as the victim in our lab and the other as the penetration tester's laptop. Though almost any laptop would fit this profile, laptops with at least 3 GB RAM are desirable. This is because we may be running a lot of memory-intensive software in our experiments.

  • One wireless adapter (optional): Depending on the wireless card of your laptop, we may need a USB Wi-Fi card that can support packet injection and packet sniffing, which is supported by Kali. The best choice seems to be the Alfa AWUS036H card from Alfa Networks, as Kali supports this out of the box. This is available on www.amazon.com for a retail price of £18 at the time of writing. An alternative option is the Edimax EW-7711UAN, which is smaller and, marginally, cheaper.

  • One access point: Any access8 point that supports WEP/WPA/WPA2 encryption standards would fit the bill. I will be using a TP-LINK TL-WR841N Wireless router for the purpose of illustration in this book. You can purchase it from www.amazon.com for a retail price of around £20 at the time of writing.

  • An internet connection: This will come in handy for performing research, downloading software, and for some of our experiments.


Software requirements

We will need the following software to set up the wireless lab:

  • Kali: This software can be downloaded from the official website located at http://www.kali.org. The software is open source, and you should be able to download it directly from the website.

  • Windows XP/Vista/7/10: You will need any one of Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 10 installed on one of the laptops. This laptop will be used as the victim machine for the rest of the book.


Important to note is that even though we are using a Windows-based OS for our tests, the techniques learnt can be applied to any Wi-Fi-capable devices, such as smartphones and tablets, among others.


Installing Kali

Let's now quickly take a look at how to get up and running with Kali.

Kali will be installed on the laptop that will serve as the penetration tester's machine for the rest of the book.


Time for action – installing Kali

Kali is relatively simple to install. We will run Kali by booting it as a live DVD, and then install it on the hard drive.

Perform the following instructions step by step:

  1. Burn the Kali ISO (we are using the Kali 32-bit ISO) you downloaded, onto a bootable DVD.

  2. Boot the laptop with this DVD and select the option Install from Boot menu:

  3. If booting was successful, then you should see an awesome retro screen as shown in the following screenshot:

  4. This installer is similar to the GUI-based installers of most Linux systems and should be simple to follow. Select the appropriate options on every screen and start the installation process. Once the installation is done, restart the machine as prompted and remove the DVD.

  5. Once the machine restarts, a login screen will be displayed. Log in as root and the password is whatever you set it to during the installation process. You should now be logged into your installed version of Kali. Congratulations!

  6. I will change the desktop theme and some settings for this book. Feel free to use your own themes and color settings!

What just happened?

We have successfully installed Kali on the laptop! We will use this laptop as the penetration tester's laptop for all other experiments in this book.

Have a go hero – installing Kali on VirtualBox

We can also install Kali within virtualization software such as VirtualBox. If you don't want to dedicate a full laptop to Kali, this is the best option. Kali's installation process in VirtualBox is exactly the same. The only difference is the pre-setup, which you will have to create in VirtualBox. Have a go at it! You can download VirtualBox from http://www.virtualbox.org.

One of the other ways in which we can install and use Kali is via USB drives. This is particularly useful if you do not want to install on the hard drive, but still want to store persistent data, such as scripts and new tools, on your Kali instance. We encourage you to try this out as well!


Setting up the access point

Now we will set up the access point. As mentioned earlier, we will be using the TP-LINK TL-WR841N Wireless router for all the experiments in this book. However, feel free to use any other access point. The basic principles of operation and usage remain the same.


Time for action – configuring the access point

Let's begin! We will set the access point up to use Open Authentication (OAuth) with an SSID of Wireless Lab.

Follow these instructions step by step:

  1. Power on the access point, and use an Ethernet cable to connect your laptop to one of the access point's Ethernet ports.

  2. Enter the IP address of the access point configuration terminal in your browser. For TP-Link, it is by default You should consult your access point's setup guide to find its IP address. If you do not have the manuals for the access point, you can also find the IP address by running the route –n command. The gateway IP address is typically the access point's IP. Once you are connected, you should see a configuration portal that looks like the following TP-LINK Wireless N Router WR841N emblazoned screenshot:

  3. Explore the various settings in the portal after logging in, and find the settings related to configuring a new SSID.

  4. Change the SSID to Wireless Lab. Depending on the access point, you may have to reboot it for the settings to change.

  5. Similarly, find the settings related to Wireless Security and change the setting to Disable Security. Disable Security indicates that it is using the Open Authentication mode.

  6. Save the changes to the access point and reboot it, if required. Now your access point should be up-and-running with an SSID, Wireless Lab.

An easy way to verify this is to use the wireless configuration utility in Windows and observe the available networks using the Windows laptop. You should find Wireless Lab as one of the networks in the listing:

What just happened?

We have successfully set up our access point with an SSID, Wireless Lab. It is broadcasting its presence, and this is being picked up by our Windows laptop and others within the Radio Frequency (RF) range of the access point.

Important to note is that we configured our access point in the Open mode, which is the least secure. It is advisable not to connect this access point to the internet for the time being, as anyone within the RF range will be able to use it to access the internet.

Have a go hero – configuring the access point to use WEP and WPA

Play around with the configuration options of your access point. Try to get it up-and-running using encryption schemes such as WEP and WPA/WPA2. We will use these modes in later chapters to illustrate attacks against them.


Setting up the wireless card

Setting up our wireless adapter is much easier than the access point. The advantage is that Kali supports this card out of the box and ships with all requisite device drivers to enable packet injection and packet sniffing.


Time for action – configuring your wireless card

We will be using the wireless adapter with the penetration tester's laptop.

Follow these instructions step by step to set up your card:

  1. Plug in the card to one of the Kali laptop's USB ports and boot it. Once you log in, open a console terminal and type in iwconfig. Your screen should look as follows:

    As you can see, wlan0 is the wireless interface created for the wireless adapter.

    Type in ifconfig wlan0 up to bring the interface up. Then, type in ifconfig wlan0 to see the current state of the interface:

  2. The MAC address 00:c0:ca:3e:bd:93 should look like the MAC address written under your Alfa card. I am using the Edimax that gives me the preceding MAC address 80:1f:02:8f:34:d5. This is a quick check to ensure that you have enabled the correct interface.

What just happened?

Kali ships with all the required drivers for the Alfa and Edimax adapters out of the box. As soon as the machine booted, the adapter was recognized and was assigned the network interface wlan0. Now our wireless adapter is up and functional!


Connecting to the access point

Now we will take a look at how to connect to the access point using the wireless adapter. Our access point has an SSID, Wireless Lab and does not use any authentication.


Time for action – configuring your wireless card

Here we go! Follow these steps to connect your wireless card to the access point:

  1. Let's first see what wireless networks our adapter is currently detecting. Issue the iwlist wlan0 scanning command, and you will find a list of networks in your vicinity:

    Keep scrolling down and you should find the Wireless Lab network in this list. In my setup, it is detected as Cell 05; it may be different in yours. The ESSID field contains the network name.

  2. As multiple access points can have the same SSID, verify that the MAC address mentioned in the preceding Address field matches your access point's MAC. A fast and easy way to get the MAC address is underneath the access point or using web-based GUI settings.

  3. Now, issue the iwconfig wlan0 essid "Wireless Lab" command and then iwconfig wlan0 to check the status. If you have successfully connected to the access point, you should see the MAC address of the access point in the Access Point field in the output of iwconfig.

  4. We know that the access point has a management interface IP address from its manual. Alternately, this is the same as the default router IP address when we run the route –n command. Let's set our IP address in the same subnet by issuing the ifconfig wlan0 netmask up command. Verify that the command succeeded by typing ifconfig wlan0 and checking the output.

  5. Now let's ping the access point by issuing the ping command. If the network connection has been set up properly, then you should see the responses from the access point. You can additionally issue an arp –a command to verify that the response is coming from the access point. You should see that the MAC address of the IP is the access point's MAC address we noted earlier. It is important to note that some of the more recent access points might have responses to the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) echo request packets disabled. This is typically done to make the access point secure out of the box with only minimal configuration settings available. In such a case, you can try to launch a browser and access the web interface to verify that the connection is up-and-running:

  6. On the access point, we can verify connectivity by looking at the connection logs. As you can see in the following log, the MAC address of the wireless card 4C:0F:6E:70:BD:CB has been logged making DHCP requests from the router:

What just happened?

We just connected to our access point successfully from Kali using our wireless adapter as the wireless device. We also learned how to verify that a connection has been established at both the wireless client and the access point side.

Have a go hero – establishing a connection in a WEP configuration

Here is a challenging exercise for you: set up the access point in a WEP configuration. For each of these, try establishing a connection with the access point using the wireless adapter. Hint: check the manual for the iwconfig command by typing man iwconfig to see how to configure the card to connect to WEP.

Pop quiz – understanding the basics

Q1. After issuing the ifconfig wlan0 command, how do you verify that the wireless card is up and functional?

Q2. Can we run all our experiments using the Kali live CD alone? Can we not install the CD to the hard drive?

Q3. What does the arp –a command show?

Q4. Which tool should we use in Kali to connect to WPA/WPA2 networks?



This chapter provided you with detailed instructions on how to set up your own wireless lab. Also, in the process, you learned the basic steps do the following:

  • Installing Kali on your hard drive and exploring other options such as virtual machines and USBs

  • Configuring your access point over the web interface

  • Understanding and using several commands to configure and use your wireless card

  • Verifying the connection state between the wireless client and the access point

Gaining confidence in configuring the system is important for you. If you aren't confident, it is advisable that you repeat the preceding examples a couple of times. In later chapters, we will design more complicated scenarios.

In the next chapter, you will learn about inherent design-based insecurities in the WLANs design. We will use the network analyzer tool, Wireshark, to understand these concepts in a practical way.

About the Authors

  • Cameron Buchanan

    Cameron Buchanan is a penetration tester by trade and a writer in his spare time. He has performed penetration tests around the world for a variety of clients across many industries. Previously, Cameron was a member of the RAF. In his spare time, he enjoys doing stupid things, such as trying to make things fly, getting electrocuted, and dunking himself in freezing cold water. He is married and lives in London.

    Browse publications by this author
  • Vivek Ramachandran

    Vivek Ramachandran has been working on Wi-Fi security since 2003. He discovered the Caffe Latte attack and also broke WEP Cloaking, a WEP protection schema, publicly in 2007 at DEF CON. In 2011, he was the first to demonstrate how malware could use Wi-Fi to create backdoors, worms, and even botnets.

    Earlier, Vivek was one of the programmers of the 802.1x protocol and Port Security in Cisco's 6500 Catalyst series of switches, and he was also one of the winners of the Microsoft Security Shootout contest held in India among a reported 65,000 participants. He is best known in the hacker community as the founder of SecurityTube.net, where he routinely posts videos on Wi-Fi security, assembly language, exploitation techniques, and so on. SecurityTube.net receives over 100,000 unique visitors a month.

    Vivek's work on wireless security has been quoted in BBC Online, InfoWorld, MacWorld, The Register, IT World Canada, and so on. This year, he will speak or train at a number of security conferences, including Blackhat, DEF CON, Hacktivity, 44con, HITB-ML, BruCON Derbycon, Hashdays, SecurityZone, and SecurityByte.

    Browse publications by this author

Latest Reviews

(3 reviews total)
It has the info I wanted.
really good and quick, with no hassles
Great book to get started with wireless penetration!

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