Wireshark is a free and open-source packet analyzer (network sniffer). It is used for network troubleshooting, analysis, software and communications protocol development, and education. It allows you to see what's happening on your network at a microscopic level.
It can decode and dissect a wide variety of network protocols, including TCP, UDP, HTTP, DNS, and many others, and it can be used on a variety of platforms, including Windows, macOS, and Linux. With Wireshark, you can capture and examine live network traffic, as well as read previously captured files, and use filters to search for specific packets of interest. It also has a wide range of features for analyzing and interpreting data, including the ability to reassemble and read packet data in a human-readable format.
10 Common Uses for Wireshark
Wireshark is the go-to software when you need a deep dive into what is happening on your network. It uses a simple GUI, and you can save outputs to examine later. Here are the most common uses for Wireshark.
- Network troubleshooting and analysis: Wireshark can be used to identify and diagnose network issues, such as slow performance, dropped packets, and connectivity problems.
- Packet capture and analysis: Wireshark can capture and analyze network traffic in real time, allowing you to see exactly what is happening on your network.
- Protocol analysis: Wireshark can be used to analyze the different protocols that are used on a network, such as TCP, UDP, and HTTP.
- Security analysis: Wireshark can be used to detect and analyze network security threats, such as malware, intrusion attempts, and malicious traffic.
- VoIP analysis: Wireshark can be used to analyze and troubleshoot Voice over IP (VoIP) networks, including SIP and RTP protocols.
- Wireless analysis: Wireshark can be used to analyze and troubleshoot wireless networks, including 802.11 and Bluetooth.
- Network performance monitoring: Wireshark can be used to monitor network performance and identify bottlenecks, such as high latency and low throughput.
- Packet filtering: Wireshark can be used to filter and isolate specific packets based on various criteria, such as protocol, IP address, or port number.
- Generating statistics: Wireshark provides a wide range of statistics and metrics, including network traffic, protocol distribution, and conversation statistics.
- Exporting and analyzing data: Wireshark allows you to export captured data in various formats, such as CSV, XML, and JSON, for further analysis or reporting.
Getting Wireshark Certified
The Wireshark Certified Network Analyst (WCNA) certification is a professional certification program that is designed to demonstrate a candidate's knowledge and skills in using Wireshark to analyze and troubleshoot network issues. The WCNA certification is offered by Wireshark University, but of course, we also teach it here on howtonetwork.
To obtain the WCNA certification, a candidate must pass a remotely proctored or test center based, hands-on exam that covers a wide range of topics related to network analysis, including:
- Capturing and analyzing network traffic using Wireshark
- Understanding and interpreting network protocols and packet data
- Identifying and troubleshooting common network issues, such as latency, jitter, and dropped packets
- Using Wireshark's advanced features, such as filters, statistics, and expert information
The WCNA certification costs $299 and is valid for three years. It can be renewed by passing the recertification exam or by taking an advanced course. The certification is widely recognized in the industry as a demonstration of a candidate's expertise in network analysis and troubleshooting using Wireshark.
Wireshark is free to use, and it's the perfect tool to help learn TCP/IP as well as study for exams such as Cisco, Security, and CompTIA.
Installing Wireshark on a Windows, Linux, or macOS system typically involves the following steps:
- Download the Wireshark installation package for your operating system from the official Wireshark website (https://www.wireshark.org/download.html)
- Run the installation package and follow the prompts to install Wireshark. On Windows, this typically involves clicking through a series of screens to accept the license agreement, select the components to install and specify the installation location. On Linux and macOS, you may need to use the terminal to execute the installation package.
- Once the installation is complete, you can launch Wireshark by searching for it in the start menu on Windows or by typing “wireshark” in the terminal on Linux and macOS.
- To begin capturing network traffic, you will need to select an interface to capture from. On Windows and macOS, this can be done by clicking on “Capture > Interfaces” in the menu. On Linux, this can be done by typing “sudo wireshark” in the terminal to open Wireshark with root privileges and then selecting the interface from the list.
- On some systems, the installation may require additional steps like installing WinPcap library, or run the installer with administrator privileges.
Please note that on Windows, Wireshark requires WinPcap library to be installed, it will prompt you to install it during the installation of Wireshark. On Linux, you may need to install libpcap library and configure your system to allow non-root users to capture packets. On macOS, you may need to configure the security settings to allow Wireshark to capture network traffic.
It is always recommended to check the official documentation of Wireshark website for more detailed instructions for your specific operating system version.
Our Wireshark Certification course covers all theory and lab, so please check it out.
This is a good short read that reminded me how useful Wireshark is. Thanks!