Kali Linux works with a limited set of WIFI network adapters, and getting the best network adapter is like black magic. In the good old days of Backtrack, I would always have recommended a 54 Mbps card from Alfa – called the Alfa AWUS036H. This card was amazing… and would pick up 2-3 times as many networks as more powerful cards. This leads us to the first point about KALI Network adapters – the chipset is more important than the adapter itself. The Alfa AWUS036H used the Realtek 8187L chipset – and nothing came close to its performance. Of course, who wants a 2.4 Ghz, 54 Mbps adapter these days?
Step 1 – Research the Chipset
The chipset is the ultimate decider of whether a network adapter will flunk or be awesome with Kali Linux – choose wisely, as even yours truly has bought an expensive adapter that proved to be utterly useless.
Realtek 8187L (Wireless G adapters)
The reference section links the chipset to drivers.
Step 2 – Use Alfa cards – lazy option
You are humbly introduced to Alfa network cards – Alfa dominate the Penetration Testing scene. Not all Alfa’s work with Kali on a plug n play basis.. so we still need to be selective.
We are looking for network adapters that can carry out “monitor mode ” and “packet injection”.
If your dream card cannot do this – then backtrack.. backtrack, gedit…
Step 3 – Wardriving Paddles & Antennas
Use wardriving paddles to increase your adapters signal strength. A rule of thumb here is that every 3 db increase in power, will double your signal strength. So an Alfa antenna with a 10 db gain – means triple your signal strength.
10 db gain antenna – for 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz networks
The panel antenna fits onto the Alfa adapters, and costs between £12 and £20.
The wardriving paddle works with only 2.4 Ghz networks, and gives 7 db gain for £11.
I really like using the wardriving paddle, however 2.4 Ghz networks are dying out.
Step 4 – Current strongest Kali network adapters.
Alfa Network AWUS036NHA – Black Alfa
The AWUS036NHA uses the Atheros AR9271 chipset drivers. 150 Mbps – costs around £20.
Note the comment about region set to BO. BO = Bolivia. There are no radio laws in Bolivia so you can TX at maximum power.
Alfa Network AWUS036NH – Green or Teal Alfa
Comments/test results found:
ALFA Network AWUS051NH V2 (Version 2) 2.4/ 5GHz
The AWUS051NH uses the RALink3572 chipset. It’s plug n play in Kali and injection capable. 300 Mbps – costs around £35.
ALFA Network AWUS052NH 2.4/ 5GHz Dual Band 300Mbp/s
This uses the RT3572 chipset and reportedly works with Kali out of the box for G/N/A networks. However, reports also found it weak when used with Windows.
It looks great too, but is hard to find, therefore costs over £40. I really like the look of this.. but need to find more corroborating evidence regarding its compatibility with Kali – but it’s looking good.
Non Alfa Adapters – TPLink WN 722N
Non Alfa Adapters – Comfast using AR9271 chipset
Alfa Adapters – AWUS036NHR V2 -AVOID!!
Note the chipset – RTL8188RU. This chipset is known to have issues.
Last point, am I paid by Alfa networks? No.
Do they provide me with kit to test? No, sadly. I wish they did.
If you have a wifi network adatper that works with Kali 2 – plug n play then please let me know.
That’s the trouble with being independent and impartial – no free lunch.