Best Wireless Adapter For Hacking in Kali Linux (2018 Review)
Last updated: Nov 19 2018
Today you'll learn which wireless adapter you should buy for hacking wifi networks using Kali Linux.
Before I begin, there's something you should know:
Not all wireless adapters are created equal and therefore compatible with Kali Linux. And the majority you'll find for sale aren't equipped with packet injection or monitor mode -- both of which are required for penetration testing wireless networks.
After doing some extensive research and reading via Kali Linux forums and other hacking-related communities. I went out and bought the top 3 most popular and most effective wifi adapters for Kali Linux.
Unlike most of the "best adapter" reviews you'll find online, I'll actually be sharing my experiences and what I've learned from using each adapter.
So without further ado..
The best and most effective wireless adapter specifically designed for hacking wifi are:
Keep on reading to read my reviews about each one.
Chipsets That Support Packet Injection
Before you buy, check the chipset of the adapter.
The chipset is important as it will determine if it can support packet injection or monitor mode. If you're not sure what both modes are and why they're critical, I'll explain below please continue reading.
Here's a list of known chipsets that support monitor mode AND packet injection:
- Atheros AR9271
- Ralink RT3070
- Ralink RT3572
NOTE: If your network adapter supports packet injection then it should also support monitor mode. However, there are many adapters that support monitor mode but not packet injection.
Packet injection and Monitor Mode Explained
To put simply, monitor mode is what you use to "sniff" or capture (encrypted) data transmitted by wireless routers and devices nearby. While packet injection is what you use to transmit data to those networks.
What is Monitor Mode?
Monitor mode allows you to capture data sent and received by wireless devices/networks nearby.
Without it, you can't see which devices are active and what's happening in a network.
What is Packet Injection?
Packet injection allows you to craft and inject or send data to wireless devices/networks nearby.
Without it, you can't intercept or manipulate any activity from within any network.
How To Identify WiFi Adapter Chipset
If you already have an adapter but you're not sure if the chipset is compatible, here's how to find out what chipset it uses.
NOTE: You need to have Kali Linux installed to perform this test.
If you don't have it installed, follow my step-by-step guide on how to run Kali Linux on a bootable USB stick/drive (no installation required, literally).
- Install aircrack-ng suite (if you haven't already)
- Run airmon-ng
sudo apt-get install aircrack-ng
PRO TIP: You can also use the "lsusb" command which displays information about your USB ports and the devices connect to them, as well as the chipset used by your network adapter.
Best Wireless Adapters Compatible With Kali Linux
As a final test, I wanted to see which adapter can successfully capture handshakes passively (without forcing a client to reconnect). So, I had all three adapters configured to listen in on the same channel and I left them airodump-ing for 24 hours.
As seen in the image above, the TL-WN722N was able to capture 6 while the AWUS036NHA captured 3.
If you're wondering why the AWUS036NH is not up there, it's because it wasn't able to capture any handshakes.
I'm currently running more tests, I'll keep you guys posted.
Overall. The TP-LINK TL-WN722N is my preferred wifi adapter for hacking in Kali Linux.
My second best goes to the ALFA AWUS036NHA (the black one). After having tested both ALFA adapters side by side, it showed me the most results. Today, I only use the AWUS036NH for wardriving sessions.
Did you find this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments below!
What I learned from this test:
1. For effective wifi hacking, use multiple adapters, one specifically for listening and another for attacking.
2. When listening for handshakes, always specify the channel the target is on. If you're using airodump-ng, you can do this by adding "-c" then channel number (eg. airodump-ng wlan0 -c #).
3. Using an ALFA long-range antenna on the TL-WN722N will significantly improve its range and performance.
If you want to see how I'm using these adapters, check out my Instagram where I share quick video tips and tricks for Kali Linux users.