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Monitor Mode and Native Capture Mode in Acrylic Wi-Fi

The Monitor Mode (Promiscuous Mode or Listening Mode) and the Native Capture Mode or Normal Mode are the two capture modes supported by Acrylic Wi-Fi Professional and Acrylic Wi-Fi Heatmaps. The Monitor Mode can be enabled using any standard wireless card that is compatible with our NDIS drive or by using a professional hardware such as an AirPcap card.

The amount of information obtained about our Wi-Fi network will depend on the selected capture type. Continue reading to find out what information each capture type provides.

Native Capture Mode

The Acrylic Wi-Fi suite is compatible with any wireless card available in the market on Native Capture Mode or Normal Mode. When monitoring on Native Capture Mode, the wireless card operates as any standard Wi-Fi device.

By using Windows native mechanisms, the wireless card only captures a certain type of Management packets, specifically Beacon packets, that are originated by the access points. These packets are transmitted several times per second by the access points to indicate which network or networks are currently broadcasting.

Acrylic Wi-Fi tools analyze and read these packets, displaying the information contained in the packets and saving this information to the current project.

To perform a native data capture, no special hardware is required.

Information available on Normal Mode using Acrylic Wi-Fi Professional

In Acrylic Wi-Fi Professional, the native capture mode provides information on: SSID, MAC addresses, signal strength, channels, bandwidth, IEEE 802.11, maximum packet transmission rate, WEP, WPA, WPA2, WPS, password, WPS PIN, manufacturer, AP first detected time, AP last detected time, type of established connection and latitude and longitude (this information is available when a GPS device is connected).

native capture data

Charts available on Normal Mode using Acrylic Wi-Fi Heatmaps

In Acrylic Wi-Fi Heatmaps, the native capture mode allows to generate the following plots: RSSI, AP coverage, channel coverage, maximum transmission rates supported, number of APs, channel overlapping, cell-grouped data, bandwidth*, latency*, packet loss* and roaming*.

*Plots available when performing an active site survey.

native capture charts

Monitor Mode with NDIS driver

The monitor mode is a data capture mode that allows the use of a wireless network card Wi-Fi on listening mode or promiscuous mode. Operating on this mode, the wireless network card is able to capture all types of Wi-Fi Management packets (including Beacon packets), Data packets and Control packets . This way, it is possible to visualize not only the access points, but also the clients that are transmitting within Wi-Fi frequency bands.

To enable the monitor mode, you should have a wireless network card that is compatible with our NDIS driver or a professional wireless network card such as an AirPcap card that supports both native capture and monitor mode.

To enable the Monitor Mode using a wireless network card that is supported by our driver, you need to install the NDIS driver: from Acrylic Wi-Fi, click the NDIS driver installation button next to the Monitor Mode Capture button.

Information available on NDIS Monitor Mode using Acrylic Wi-Fi Professional

When performing a data capture on Monitor Mode, Acrylic Wi-Fi Professional offers, besides all the information available on Normal Mode capture, information on all client devices connected to the different access points (#), Retries, Data Packets and Management Packets (Mgt).

wifi monitor mode

Charts available on NDIS Monitor Mode using Acrylic Wi-Fi Heatmaps

When performing a data capture on Monitor Mode, it is possible to visualize, besides the plots available on a Normal Mode capture, the Cell Density graph (density of client devices connected to the selected access points) and the Retry Rate (packet retransmission rate).

monitor mode graphs

Monitor Mode with AirPcap card

We can also perform a capture on Monitor Mode using professional Wi-Fi analysis hardware, such as AirPcap cards, developed by Riverbed. These cards support native capture and monitor mod; since they are engineered with this purpose, they can offer a better performance. Therefore, if we perform a capture on monitor mode with an AirPcap card, we will be able to visualize, besides all the information available from a capture on monitor mode when using an NDIS driver compatible wireless network card, SNR (Signal-to-Noise Ratio) related information.

SNR is a good parameter to measure communication quality, since it takes into account the received signal strength and the noise present in the wireless medium. Its value ranges from 0 (weakest) and 100 (strongest). 60 or over is considered a good value.

SNR is available in both Acrylic Wi-Fi Professional and Acrylic Wi-Fi Heatmaps. Are you ready to give it a try?

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