So you want to know what others are browsing on your network. But why? Well, there are few practical reasons. Like–
- You are a parent and wants to monitor your children activity on the internet
- You are sharing WiFi with your neighbors and would like to know if they can see your browsing session or not
- You just want to know how this is done so that you can keep yourself safe in future
So here are three ways to find out what others are browsing on your Wifi. However, none of these methods is foolproof, i.e. they all have their pros and cons. And it goes without saying you should test these methods on your network and not on others WiFi. Because that’s not just unethical but can also put in legal problems.
Wireshark is a popular packet capturing tool, design especially to see what people are browsing on a network- in real time.
Once you start the software, it shows your IP address of all the devices on your network. Simply select the one – you want to monitor and launch the packet capture session. And that’s it. Within seconds, you will see incoming and outgoing data packets from the target.
While capturing packets from other devices, make sure turn ON promiscuous mode and set the filter for HTTP request. You can find these setting under options menu in the start screen.
The good: With this tool, you can dig a lot of useful information and provides an excellent tool for network administrators.
The bad: You will have to buy a separate WiFi adapter (like this) to use Wireshark in promiscuous mode (i.e. monitor other devices traffic). This is because most device manufacturers lock packet capturing at the hardware level, to avoid misuse.
TheNewBoston – a popular YouTube channel has series of tutorial on how to use Wireshark for beginners. Check that out here.
This is the most popular workaround for Wireshark. And the logic behind using an OpenDNS is simple. All your network traffic passes through the router- which then passes it through your DNS provider to translate the domain name to its equivalent IP address. Righ?
So if you replace your default DNS provided (usually your ISP) to that of OpenDNS, then you can easily monitor your network traffic using their control panel. All you have to do is change your router’s DNS setting and create a free account on Open DNS.
The good: Works like a charm and easy to setup, even for a non-technical person. And that’s not all; one can also block websites or even service like WhatsApp on the entire network.
The bad: You can not see real-time traffic, though. It shows data after 24 hours and also does not identify which computer on your network has open a particular website. So you have to guess it, based on time and date.
Following video explain the whole process in simple terms.
# 3 zANTI (Android App)
zANTI is like a simple version of Wireshark- made for Android. Though, I found it quite user-friendly than Wireshark and it works right out the box. But the best part is, you don’t have to buy additional network gear to capture packets
All you need to do is install this app on an Android device. And it will scan the network and show you list of connected devices. Select the one you want to monitor and start the man in the middle attack.
zANTI captures all the HTTP traffic from the target device in real time. However, if you want to see HTTPS traffic then turn on SSL strip, this will avoid websites to open in a secure protocol.
The good: Simple and easy to use. Works right out the box and can capture data packets along with many other features. It can even intercept the username and password from some less secure websites.
The bad: Requires root and do not work all the time. So not 100 percent reliable.
Following video (starts at 3.53) show how easy is to capture packets using the zANTI Android app.
How to prevent yourself?
If you don’t want people to see you browsing activity. There are 3 things you need to do
1. When it comes to sensitive matter, don’t use the site that doesn’t have https.
2. If it’s necessary, then use a VPN
3. Install HTTPS Everywhere. It’s a browser extension for Firefox, Chrome, and Opera extension that encrypts your communications with many major websites. This will no make the HTTP site to HTTPS, but for some sites that don’t enforce https or have partial https on the checkout page (like Amazon India) then this extension will enforce it the on entire site.