How IT Managers Can Support Work-From-Home WiFi

With the continuous spread of COVID-19 throughout the world, if you work in IT, chances are that you are suddenly supporting an massive increase in employees working from home. Just like in the office, the network is fundamental to modern work - but now instead of the network being a robust corporate-supported network, it's "Home WiFi" with all of its unique ups and downs and misbehavior. This article will provide an overview of tools that will improve your ability to help remote employees with their home WiFi.

Step 1

The first thing we recommend is having your employees follow our step-by-step guide to ensure their home WiFi is ready for work-from-home. This will help them with basic network setup and resolve many common issues. The guide uses inSSIDer, which is available for Windows and Mac.

Step 2

If employees still have WiFi-related issues, the next step is to have them "Export Summary" from inSSIDer and email it to you. The summary is a small packet capture (.pcap) file containing a beacon from each access point radio in their WiFi environment.

To analyze the exported .pcap file, we recommend inSSIDer with MetaGeek Plus Pro, or your packet analyzer of choice, such as Wireshark. To open the .pcap file in inSSIDer, select "Open Pcap…" from the File menu.

After opening the exported summary in inSSIDer, click the binoculars icon next to the employee's SSID to drill down into the SSID for more details. After you have drilled down, you can click the outlined star icon in the breadcrumbs to "star" their network for quick access later. Now that you have the exported summary open in inSSIDer, you have a similar view to your employee and can help guide them through the above mentioned step-by-step guide.

Exported Summary in inSSIDer

Step 3

If you have helped the employee through the guide and there are still issues, the next step is to get a complete WiFi packet capture of their WiFi environment. Don't worry, inSSIDer makes this easy too. We are sensitive to users' privacy, so inSSIDer discards the actual contents of data packets and no sensitive information is included in this packet capture.

In order to do a full packet capture with inSSIDer your employee will need a MetaGeek Plus Pro subscription. We recommend having a "floating seat" that you can assign to any employee as needed, rather than getting a subscription for every single employee.

The other requirement is a WiFi adapter that is capable of packet capture. inSSIDer supports about a dozen WiFi adapters with varying capabilities and prices. The best bang for your buck is the Linksys WUSB6300, which you can find on Amazon for about $15 for refurbished. For a higher end adapter that can capture 802.11ac 3x3 packets, we recommend the Edimax EW-7833UAC, which is about $45 new.

Edimax 7833 WiFi Adapter

To add the employee to your MetaGeek Plus Pro Team, go to my.metageek.com/teams and click "Manage" under the "Invite a Member" section. If you have seats remaining just enter the employees email and click "Invite." If you don't have any seats remaining, you can either revoke a seat from another employee or add additional seats to your subscription.

After you have invited the employee to your MetaGeek Plus Pro Team, they may need to log out of inSSIDer and back in for inSSIDer to recognize the team change. Windows requires Administrator privileges for packet capture; the easiest way to run inSSIDer "as Administrator" is to launch inSSIDer and then click "Restart as Administrator" in the user profile menu. Once the employee has inSSIDer running in Administrator Mode and has a compatible packet capture adapter plugged in, they should see an additional "Utilization" column in inSSIDer and it will say "ADMIN" in the bottom right corner.

Let inSSIDer sit and capture packets for 1-2 minutes and then click the disk icon in the top right to save the packet capture (.pcap) file. This will prompt them for a file name and location. Then they can email you the .pcap file for deeper analysis.

After the employee has completed the packet capture with inSSIDer showing all networks, have them drill down into their connected (starred) network, wait another two minutes and then click the disk icon to save a .pcap that is just capturing packets on the channel(s) that their network is using. This will provide more in-depth information about their network and clients.

Once you have received the .pcap files from the employee, you can open them in inSSIDer, Eye P.A. or your packet analyzer of choice. Here is a full packet capture from inSSIDer shown in both inSSIDer and Eye P.A.

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