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An updated version of Ethereal Packet Sniffing
on December 6, 2006
For the most part this book is an updated version of Ethereal Packet Sniffing. The title has been changed to more accurately reflect that it's about using Wireshark and not so much about analyzing traffic (although that's covered some), and also to denote that the project changed the name of the software recently. That said, it's an improvement over Ethereal Packet Sniffing with some new material and some reorganization.
Chapter 1 is an intro to network analysis, specifically with packet sniffing. It's very cursory, and they could do a better job of teaching this subject, but honestly that's a whole book unto itself and years of practice. The chapter is reasonably comprehensive and accurate.
Chapter 2 introduces Wireshark and how to begin using it. This chapter is very short given what it says it will cover, but most of that is brought up in the following chapters. There's a brief bit about Wireshark security, but again it's too cursory (2 paragraphs for a program that ha sa constant stream of security issues). Also, the authors keep calling it Etehreal in places and Wireshark in others. This inconsistency doesn't instill a great amount of trust in me that everything was reviewed well.
Chapter 3 covers getting and installing Wireshark for Windows, Linux, OS X, and how to build it from source. It also covers packet capture drivers (ie on Windows). A very straightforward, direct chapter.
Using Wireshark is the next chapter, and this is where we start the meat of the book. It's about 80 pages long and covers the UI and the command line options. The screen captures are better than the previous version of the book (and they often times use just a portion of the screen), but they could still be improved for legibility and for usefulness. This chapter covers the uncommon graphing and stats sections, and also following streams.
Filters are covered in Chapter 5, and the PCAP and Wireshark filter languages are covered. These are rich languages that allow for complex selectivity, and the chapter is clear and pretty comprehensive.
A new topic is introduced in Chapter 6, specifically wireless sniffing. This is a good addition to the book, and even topics such as decoding EAP and WEP are covered. This is a good, concise overview of the topic of sniffing wireless networks.
Real world packet captures are covered in Chapter 7, which is sadly too short (it could easily be a whole book). Several representative traces are included on the CD ROM that are good to study and review in this chapter. They include Linux worms and Windows malware, and also some coverage of active response packets is given.
Just like the corresponding chapter in Ethereal Packet Sniffing, Chapter 8 covers developing plugins for Wireshark, specifically new protocol decodes. Because Wireshark has a framework to extend, it supports dozens of application and network layer protocols. You can add your favorite new protocol with ease if you follow this chapter. Who knows, you may even get it included. This is a real gem of the book.
Finally, Chapter 9 covers many of the auxiliary programs that are included with Wireshark. These programs let you manage packet traces and marge them or cut them down to size. These are useful even outside of Wireshark if you work with packet traces at all.
This book is a good update to the Ethereal Packet Sniffing book and material. Sadly, in many places the editors didn't do a good job of auditing the book, so there are some mistakes and sometimes even references to the now obsolete name of Ethereal. However, the additions and improvements over the older version make this book worthwhile for anyone who needs to learn how to fully utilize this powerful sniffer.