How to Guides

Stay Safe Online and Verify About Your VPN Traffic Encryption | Guide to Using VPNs with Wireshark

Staying Secure Online

Do you want to stay secure on web? VPNs could be your go-to option in this regard as it adds an extra layer of security to your online surfing. VPNs are one of the best ways to avert many things – from ISPs logging the user activity over internet to a range of other network exposures. Hence, it is crucial to ascertain that a VPN is operating the way it should be, while its usage. They, however, can be subjected to false marketing.

Some VPNs claim that they can encrypt data only for users to discover that when the VPN is turned on, their network traffic is not encrypted. To verify that, packet analyzers like Wireshark can be employed. Additionally, this handy guide will help the readers to properly determine the working of VPN.

Why are Packet Analyzers Used?

Packet analyzers – also known as packet sniffers – are tools to determine network related issues. While packet analyzers are used for finding solutions to network problems by system administrators and technicians, they are also, at times, used to gather user passwords or/and traffic by cybercriminals.

Whether they are used to determine network intrusions or troubleshoot network related issues, they can be exceptionally useful either way. A packet analyzer, for instance, is an effective tool for a technician or a system administrator used to determine the speed which is slower than normal. Packet analyzers can also be a great help for businesses to monitor their network activity to ensure that productivity remains up to the mark along with helping individual users to keep their networks secure.

Using Packet Analyzers with VPNs

Packet analyzers can be employed with VPNs. From validating the VPN’s encryption to sniffing network traffic, a packet analyzer has a wide range of uses.

While VPNs are one of the sure-fire ways to ensure digital privacy, they may also be employed for things such as gaining access to blocked websites or other restricted content in the country. However, it is quite unfortunate that the hunt of finding ‘A grade’ VPN provider is not always an easy task.

A user always has that urge to confirm if their choice is working the way it should – which means a user wants to confirm about their connection’s genuine encoding. If it fails to encrypt the data, the purpose of VPN crushes down. But, this is when Wireshark comes to the rescue.

What is Wireshark?

It is a packet sniffer that captures network packets and displays them in detail for the user. Its usage ranges from troubleshooting problems to determine security vulnerabilities. But, most frequently, it is used by network security engineers, administrators, developers and even laymen.  Unfortunately, Wireshark can also be used by hackers, looking to break into systems by sniffing data, network traffic and amassing passwords and other sensitive data.

When Wireshark is paired with a VPN, it can be ensured that a connection is encrypted and operating the way it should. A Wireshark may also be employed to gather traffic from VPN tunnel and user network.

How Much Does Wireshark Cost?

Gone are the days when heavy pockets were needed to buy these packet analyzers. Thankfully, it is not the case anymore as Wireshark is free to use. It allows all users access to its features as a whole free software. On downloading it, users are able to use the full version of it.

Using knives are legal. If someone uses it as a weapon, it turns out to be illegal. Same is the case with Wireshark. It is legal but becomes illegal when used for an illegal purpose such as monitoring a network that one does not have permission to monitor. Apart from that, it is absolutely legal to use this software and analyze the network traffic.

Protocols That are Supported by Wireshark

Along with determining security vulnerabilities and troubleshooting network-related issues, it may also be employed to mug up network protocol internals or repair protocol implementations. Intrinsically, there are hundreds of protocols supported by this software.

If it does not support any protocol, they offer a “How to Edit” page that gives guidelines on adding the protocols. See their “Protocol Reference” page to get more information on the protocols supported by the software.

Installing Wireshark with VPN

Despite the slight variations in the installing process, Wireshark can be installed on any working system including Windows/Linux and Mac.

Installing it on PC

There are a few things that will be required to set up a Wireshark VPN on PC:

  1. Firewall/Router that permits VPN connections
  2. User IP address
  3. A VPN

After meeting the aforementioned requirements, one can proceed to the Wireshark VPN setup by following the steps below:

  1. Navigate to LimeVPN website
  2. Select the matching installation file
  3. Download it
  4. Follow the installation instructions given by the VPN provider
  5. Go through terms and conditions
  6. Trace the VPN application and launch it to start configuration
  7. Sign up by creating a username and a password
  8. Connect to a suggested server
  9. Run Wireshark and enjoy your electronic privacy!

Installing it on Mac

To install Wireshark on Mac, there are few things that are required before configuring the Wireshark VPN, just like Windows/Linux:

  1. Eligible domain or server IP address
  2. User ID and password
  3. Connection type (L2TP/PPTP)

Once the requirements are met, one can proceed with the setup by following the steps mentioned below:

  1. Select “System Preferences”
  2. Select “Network”
  3. Click on the “+” button
  4. Select VPN, under interface
  5. Specify the connection type as L2TP or PPTP
  6. Select “Configuration”
  7. Select the “Add Configuration” option
  8. Save it as “Server 1”
  9. Type the IP address/FQDN and username of VPN server
  10. Select “Authentication Settings”
  11. Type password
  12. If the connection type is L2TP, enter the shared secret
  13. Select “Show VPN Status” in the menu bar
  14. Select “Apply”
  15. Enjoy your digital privacy!

Mac, by default, only passes Wireshark VPN traffic that is necessary through a user Wireshark VPN. If someone wants to get all traffic passed through it, they will need to do a few additional steps:

  1. Go to “System Preferences”
  2. Select “Advanced”
  3. Check “Send all traffic over VPN connections”
  4. Select “Ok”
  5. Select the drop-down cog menu
  6. Select “Set Service Order”
  7. Drag the services so the VPN to be used is at the top
  8. Enjoy the Wireshark VPN!

Installing Wireshark is not a rocket science. Depending on the OS, the user simply need to download the corresponding file to execute it.  

Installing it on Windows

  1. Go to the download page of Wireshark and select Windows 64-bit or 32
  2. Let the installation file get download and then click on it
  3. Select “Next” when the Wireshark setup appears
  4. Select “I Agree” when prompted with the License Agreement
  5. Choose the components for installing & select “Next” 
  6. Tick any shortcuts and select “Next” 
  7. Choose the Destination Folder & select “Next” 
  8. Tick the option to set up WinPcap when prompted and select “Next” 
  9. OPTIONAL: select the option to set up USBPcap and then select “Next” 
  10. The installation of Wireshark will begin
  11. Setup for WinPcap will crop up – follow the installation heads-up 
  12. If you chose to install USBPcap, the setup for it will appear– follow the prompts 
  13. After completion, restart your system by ticking the reboot option and selecting “Finish” 
  14. After rebooting, enjoy the Wireshark VPN connection!

Installing it on Linux

To install Wireshark on Linux, follow the instructions mentioned below:

  1. Select CTRL+ALT+T after opening up Terminal
  2. Type “sudo apt-get update” (without quotation)
  3. Add “sudo apt-get install Wireshark”
  4. Let the installation get complete and type “Wireshark”
  5. The application for it will open up
  6. And it’s done!

Installing it on Mac

  1. Select Command+Space
  2. Type “Terminal”
  3. Select Enter/Return
  4. Type in the Terminal “ruby -e “$(curl -fsSL” < /dev/null 2> /dev/null”
  5. Select Enter/Return
  6. Let the command get complete and then type “brew install Wireshark”

If issues arise during the above procedure, the following installation instructions can be followed:

  1. Download Wireshark from their website
  2. Mount the disk image
  3. Follow the prompted installation instruction
  4. After completion, drag the Wireshark app to the Applications folder
  5. Open Utilities Folder via the disk image
  6. Drag the Startup folder to the desktop
  7. Eject the disk image
  8. Open the copied Startup folder
  9. Delete “README.macosx
  10. Rename the folder to ChmodBPF
  11. Open your Library folder
  12. Search for a folder named StartupItems
  13. Create the folder if it is not there
  14. Open Terminal and type “cd Desktop”
  15. Type “sudo mv ChmodBPF /Library/StartupItems/
  16. Enter account password
  17. Once the setup is completed, reboot your system
  18. Wireshark is ready to go!

Wireshark for Beginners

Using Wireshark can be a bit overpowering in the start due to its variety of uses. So, start out small as pairing it with a VPN is only the start of its capabilities. Fortunately, the initial steps are quite easy to master.

Sniff the Network Traffic through Wireshark

As mentioned earlier, one of the most common uses of Wireshark is to capture network packets by sniffing the network traffic. To verify the Wireshark VPN encryption, one needs a know-how of running a simple packet capture.

  1. Start Wireshark 
  2. From the Capture menu, select the interface to scan
  3. Select the Start button 
  4. Examine the info by referring to Wireshark’s default color codes 

Verifying Wireshark VPN Encryption

To verify whether or not your VPN is encrypting data, Wireshark is one the most effective tools to use.  The users are able to see with their own eyes whether Wireshark VPN is working the way it should or not by inspecting the data packets that their PC is receiving and sending. Also, it is also easy to do.   

Following are a few steps that one needs to follow to confirm if their Wireshark is encrypting data:

  1. Open your VPN
  2. Start Wireshark
  3. Select your network interface (WiFi/Ethernet) to record
  4. Start recording
  5. Search for the packets that have the “Protocol” as “OpenVPN
  6. Right click on the OpenVPN packet
  7. Select “Follow…UDP/TCP stream” 
  8. Finally, review the full stream to verify encryption

Protecting Oneself from Packet Analyzers

Packet analyzers, as discussed above, are used to assist system administrators and network technicians to pinpoint network related problems. Unluckily, it does not mean that they cannot be abused by criminals for their illegal purposes. Hence, in order to stay safe online, consider the following tips to avoid packet sniffing:

Final Thoughts

To experience the ultimate security while being online, using a Wireshark VPN could be one of the best options to opt for. With a Wireshark VPN, one can surf the internet with total anonymity and also verify that VPN is actually encrypting the traffic. This is something that everyone needs to have in their systems to avoid putting their online safety and security at risk. So, without wasting another minute, install one of the best VPNs for Wireshark now and enjoy your digital privacy and security.


VPN Benefits

Get privacy protection, Wi-Fi security, unrestricted access to content, and much more.

Don’t let the internet browse you!