Research Papers

PCAP Research Paper

Packet captures (PCAP) are essential computer network application programming interface that function to capture the network traffic. Operating systems that are based on UNIX feature PCAP in the library of libpcap. Windows based operating systems feature PCAP within their WinPcap which acts as their libpcap ports. Monitoring applications make use of WinPcap or even a libpcap or both in order to capture data packets that traverse within a network. Where else, new versions of monitoring application utilize the WinPcap to transmit data packets in the link layer of a network. Monitoring applications also make use of of libpcap and WinPcap to obtain the list of network interfaces that augur with WinPcap or libPcap. The report focuses on the two packet capture applications, Npcap and libpcap. The programs are mostly developed in C language, however they may be wrapped in Java or .NET languages to develop an interface which is simple to understand.

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Npcap is a lightweight form of WinPcap technique. Npcap is supposed in Windowx XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 and even Windows 10. Acording to “Samplecaptures – The Wireshark Wiki.”, Npcap obtained lots of beneficial tests from NetScanTools and Wireshark. The Npcap development project was partly sponsored by Nmap project and Yang Luo.

FEATURES: NDIS 6 support
Npcap is known for its LWF drivers that makes to support Windows Vista and other later versions of Windows like XP. Npcap is relatively faster as compared to its intermediate predecessor, NDIS 5. The reason for its robust speed are the changes made to its data structures.

Admin-only support capability
Npcap restricts its uses to the admins for the purposes of ensuring safety throughout. Npcap installation process allows one decide the privileges of people that make changes or contact the support. The installation process also allows one to restrict the application access through the administrator section only. Whenever a person accesses the application, he or she is prompted to access it using administrative section. Npcap works like the UNIX that requires one to log into the root access before making changes or capture packets, (“Samplecaptures – The Wireshark Wiki.”).

Npcap Compatibility mode
Npcap Compatible Mode allows one determine if Npcap can operate alongside WinPcap. The compatibility feature can get turned on or off depending on if one intends to assess the compatibility. When the Compatibility mode is turned off, Npcap shares its DLL binary so that it coexists with WinPcap. Any application that requires WinPcap makes use of Npcap as an alternative if the former does not exist in the network. However, application that acknowledge the existence of both Npcap and WinPcap chooses the one to make use.

Npcap makes use of npcap service name rather than npf, which is common with WinPcap. The npf applies in WinPcap when the Compatibility mode is set to off. Applications that make use of npf, therefore, make use of Npcap if necessary. An additional feature known as WinPcap Compatible Mode is applicable when one seeks full compatibility within a computer network. The compatibility features can get implemented during the installation phase of the packet capture program.

For instance, if one intends to install Npcap in an Application Programming Interface which augurs with WinPcap, then the installation mode keeps Npcap compatible to WinPcap. The process however requires the uninstallation of the existing WinPcap. The installation wizard tells one if the installation went on successfully or took place with potential errors, (“Samplecaptures – The Wireshark Wiki.”).

Loopback packet capture
Windows Filtering Platform allows Npcap identify Windows loopback packets. Npcap creates a special folder meant for the Loopback and the folder is automatically named Npcap Loopback Adapter. Because the report is based on Wireshark, for instance, one requires to set to adapter setting to loop all traffic as one does within non-loopback adapter scenarios. One sets the Npcap Loopback using the command line ping (IPv4).

Raw 802.11 packet
Npcap has the ability to identify 802.11 data packets within a network. A Wi-Fi version of the Npcap allows one identify the 802.11 packets. Setting the adapter to monitor mode allows the Npcap see and transmit 802.11 packets using the radiotap heaters. Monitor Mode ensures that Npcap supply the 802.11 data packets, management packets and control packets. Managed Mode allows the supply of data packets alone.

Npcap Architecture
Npcap augurs with its original WinPcap system architecture in most cases as noted in the files. Npcap uses nearly all the same files for WinPcap like Packet.dll, wpcap.dll and nps.sys among other files.

Npcap Loopback dependent software
Loopback device adapater for Npcap varies from latest windows to the previous windows cases. Npcap loopback adapter is Ethernet based, and for the reason its name is changed. Npcap LoopBack Adapter focuses on LoopBack traffic within a network. Traffic which does not relate with LoopBack Npcap does not feature in the case.

Npcap IP addresses appears in the form of 169.254. X.X., but that is not used to identify the application. IPv4 and IPv6 depend on to identify the network. Windows does not permit IP configurations using for reservation purposes.

Basically, software which require Npcap loopback capability require given steps to configure themselves. The first process involves the detection of the Npcap LoopBack’s existence. The detection occurs through registry reading, and once the Npcap LoopBack is read, it means that the adapter works efficiently.

The Npcap LoopBack address gets regarded in the form of which is the standard. An IP Helper API avails the adapter list which one selects from the interface generated. Npcap LoopBack entry adapter can get merged alongside a pseudo-Interface 1 LoopBack.

Npcap 802.11 Raw feature dependent software
The network requires the installation of the latest WIFI Ncap software version. There are two possible releases for Npcap, which entail the normal version and the WIFI based version. The variation between the two versions being that normal version identifies packets that include fake headers in their Ethernet adapters. On the other hand, the WIFI Npcap version specially sees 802.11 Radiotap headers. Basically, the Npcap is fairly easy to use, thanks to the Java software used to develop its interface. It has relatively more features, and is considered a highly valued application.

Accessing a network in secure manner depends on the authorization and authentication within the network access by the clients. Client-to-network initial and following authentication process allows one the parameters useful in traffic management and monitoring through various points. A protocol is necessary in making sure the authentication methods between network and clients remain secure.

However, there exists no particular standards needed to make sure clients accessing a network are authenticated. PANA is one such network service solution which provides solutions to the network access. The report illustrates the process which facilitates the development of a link layer that acts as a transport feature that authenticates all network access clients. PANA facilitates transport activities within a network that cannot get transported through an IP protocol.

PANA is a protocol that runs on two functionalities and they include PAA and PaC. PANA occurs above the network transport layer. An architecture is used to explain the PANA entities. PAA interacts with AAA to allow a user access the network. EP applies to the network as a logical entity. PAA and EP within a network do require to exist in any relationship. A different protocol is needed to allow EP and AAA communicate within a network.

PANA operates between clients and servers. PANA is responsible for authentication services within a network environment. Requests and responses are the main features of a protocol messaging. A typical message contains one or more Attribute-Value Paris. EAP acts as the main payload for the PANA communication. PANA sustains an EAP session between PAA and PaC.

PANA protocol is based on UDP, which makes use of a retransmission method to successfully deliver information. The messages which PANA sends or relays take place between PAA and PaC. A PANA session ensures that messages are successfully delivered and the process takes place during the process. PANA session composes three main stages.

The first stage involves authentication and authorization process. The initiation of a new PANA session is followed by PAA and EAP communication. PAA and EAP are the ones that initiate the PANA session. The payload within the EAP is used to engage the PAA authentication. The authentication and authorization result is conveyed to the PaC by the PAA once the phase comes to an end.

The next stage becomes the access phase following a successful process of authenticating and authorizing one into the network. The device one uses to access the network may now utilize the traffic to send or receive EP. The PAA or PaC have the ability to send notification messages to PANA to test whether the connectivity is relatively successful.

The third phase becomes the re-authentication, which allows the PaC and PAA to re-initiate connectivity. Re-authentication takes place before the expiry of a typical PANA session. The re-authentication process get managed by PANA. PaC or the PAA might initiate the re-authentication process. The re-authentication phase acts as a small phase within the access phase. The re-authentication sub-phase begins and in no time if it becomes successful the process moves back to the access phase.

The final phase, termination phase comes when PaC and PAA have accomplished their communication process. The service gets discontinued, either by PaC or PAA. A termination messaging is not essential when one intends to terminate the network. Even if PAA and PaC disconnect from the network with no termination notification, the session finiteness test is performed to ensure that any mess or errors incurred in the middle of the session are restored to the standard defaults.

Cryptographic message protection take place between PAA and PaC so that no external people do not access the network. The keys used to access the network remain at the credential of the network users and destroyed upon disconnection from the network. PANA SA is developed from the shared keys used to secure the network. Authentication codes are generated for each message sent from either side of the network connection. The authentication codes ensure that one safely gains access into the network.

Authentication and Authorization
The initial network access stages ensure security for those accessing or messages sent or received. Authorization limits the people that access a network, while authentication ensures that the limited individuals access the network using the correct access procedures. A PANA session is developed to ensure secure and steady communication between PaC and PAA. The messages sent or received by either PaC and PAA must get protected and only limited to them.

PaC session
PaC can initiate a communication session within the network. PaC sends a message which initiates communication within the network with PAA. If the PaC was not connected to the network at the time of the communication, then an automated IP address is generated and assigned. DHCP generates and configures the network IP for PaC and PAA.

Dynamic IP addressing helps the network gain connectivity for both users. PaC-initiated sessions can also make use of different configuration methods to ensure the network users are connected, but that is not part of the study scope. The PAA user on the other hand gets the request with an automated IP generated so by the time it replies the message all data is secure and the two are able to see or send.
PANA and NPcap are network data transmission mechanisms that ensure secure data transmission within a network. The report highlights the features and working conditions associated with Npcap and PANA. In either case, there are preconditions followed to ensure steady and successful communication of related parties.

Works cited:
“Protocol For Carrying Authentication For Network Access (PANA).” N.p., 2018. Web. 1 July 2018.
“Samplecaptures – The Wireshark Wiki.” N.p., 2018. Web. 1 July 2018.

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