Low-cost ZigBee sniffer made with open source hardware

Computers & Mobile Technology
Low-cost ZigBee sniffer made with open source hardware

Akiba of Freak Labs wrote in to share how he used one of his open hardware Freakduino boards to create a realtime wireless protocol analyzer for the 802.15.4 standard.

If you haven’t heard of the concept before, a protocol analyzer is a device that captures and analyzes all of the information that is sent across a communication channel (such as a serial line, Ethernet connection, or in this case a specific wireless format). This data can then be used to debug or reverse engineer whatever protocols were being sent over the communication channel. Akiba’s project is specifically aimed at monitoring the 802.15.4 wireless protocol, which is the underlying protocol used by xBee devices, as well as anything that uses the Zigbee protocol. By feeding captured data from his Freakduino board into Wireshark, an open source protocol analyzer that knows how to decode different kinds of data packets, he shows it is easy to reconstruct the conversations between two xBee nodes.

From a security standpoint, none of this is really new- there are already both commercial and homebrew projects that accomplish the same goal. What Akiba has done, however, is to provide a simple, fully open source version that is affordable to hobbyists. This could get really interesting, as more commercial devices come out that use these standards!

2 thoughts on “Low-cost ZigBee sniffer made with open source hardware

  1. freaklabs says:

    I think one of the most interesting things about being able to feed wireshark over a COM port is that it opens up protocol analysis to lots of low data rate protocols. In the future, there will be more and more of these such as Bluetooth Low Energy, ANT+, ISO7816 (smart cards), G3-PLC (powerline comms), etc. Once the tools are available to decode and display the protocols, developing for them becomes so much easier.

  2. Mike says:

    I wrote a python framework where you can easily interface with the Freakduino (https://github.com/iSECPartners/ZigTools). Adds functionality such as being able to send raw 802.15.4 frames from a pcap file and much more.

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