Hardware

Hardware

We’re often asked what hardware works well with Kismet; here’s a list of some useful starting points with links to Amazon. These links help the Kismet project a little if you use them to order, but by all means order from where ever works best for you!

Wi-Fi cards

  1. Mediatek MT7612U This is a relatively new 802.11AC chipset which has increasingly good Linux support built into the kernel. You need Linux 4.19.7 or later, and Linux 5.0 preferred for this to work. This card does not work with Raspberry Pi or other Arm devices, but may do in the future. There are several flavors of this card:
    • The Alfa AWUS036ACM has dual antenna jacks and works well.
    • The SparkLAN module has U.Fl antenna jacks and works well for building an enclosed system where space is at a premium, but the cost is significantly higher.
  2. RTL8812au This chipset has a lot more quirks than the MT7612U, but can work on more devices; specifically, once you massage the drivers into working (or use Kali), it will work with the Raspberry Pi3. This requires drivers which are not part of the kernel and can be difficult to compile. It often exhibits significant issues, but is capable of sniffing 802.11AC. There are many, many, many flavors of this card, all with subtly different form factors, frequency capabilities, and antenna options. Some we’ve used with success:
    • The basic 1x1 dual-band model. This is very cheap, but can see dual bands, and accepts an antenna.
    • The dual-band version has dual-band capability, but the antennas are not removable. This is a very very cheap card with moderate capability, but don’t expect to be able to use it for more advanced things.

Servers / SBCs

Most people will run Kismet on a laptop; if you’re looking for some embedded solutions, however, it runs better on some hardware than others:

  1. Intel Compute Stick CS125 The CS125 is a tiny Intel Atom quad-core processor with 2 gig of RAM. It’s got on-board Intel 802.11AC and Bluetooth, can run Linux, and with a modern kernel (5.0 or higher) the onboard 802.11AC works excellently. We use these as distributed sensors and portable systems; With 2GB of ram you’re likely good for about 60,000 devices per session before RAM becomes a problem. They’re also fantastic as distributed fixed sensors w/ rolling logs. You can also use USB Wi-Fi cards, RTLSDR, and so on with them.

  2. Intel Compute Stick CS325 The CS325 is the updated version of the 125; it’s got a M3 processor instead of an Atom, 4GB of RAM, and USB-C. This is much more suited for a portable Kismet system connected to a Windows laptop, or as a replacement for a full mobile system in a vehicle, due to its cost. Like the 125 you can use SDR and USB Wi-Fi cards as well as the internals.

  3. Intel NUC The Intel NUC is an excellent device for serious capture, but it’s not the best for portability or if your budget is tight. Don’t forget RAM and a SSD.

  4. Raspberry Pi 3b+ The rpi3b+ is small, cheap, and easy to get; it’s also not the best platform for running Kismet but it can do in a pinch. If you run Kali or patch with Nexmon you can use the on-board Wi-Fi for capture, or use USB - just not the Mediatek 11ac chipset, it doesn’t currently work.
    Don’t forget a case and a microsd card. Get a bunch; they’re cheap and usually break.