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Is there a way to detect 802.11 devices "pass by" an wifi hotspot.

Like if an mobile user there do not connect to the wifi, But has walking by the wifi hotspot.

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Mobile devices will transmit probe requests, looking for known networks. These can be detected by using a sniffer. But you need to check multiple channels since you don't know which one the user is transmitting on. Some enterprise-grade access points can scan channels looking for transmitting radios.

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  • To add to Ron's answer - probe requests can be detected without enterprise-grade equipment. There is some interesting research being done about just how much information can be gathered and tracked from these requests. For example: If you detect a device with a similar probe request at a certain time each day, you can "fingerprint" this device and start to track their movements. This talk gives a great overview (warning, adult content) youtube.com/watch?v=WVPe_EPiczk. – alcafly Jun 13 '18 at 10:59

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