In Discovery DHCP, we explored the DHCP protocol and the kind of information the client device reveals about itself. DHCP fingerprinting is taking that information in order to classify the operating system and/or vendor of the device. The technique is finding it’s way into commercial applications, CoovaRADIUS included, but, it’s easy to do yourself too; here’s how.


Enable the dhcpradius option to have CoovaChilli include some DHCP information in each MAC authentication triggered RADIUS Access-Request.


In this example, we are mostly interested in the DHCP Parameter Request List option which comes through in RADIUS as VSA ChilliSpot-DHCP-Parameter-Request-List.


To illustrate how to use the RADIUS attribute in the back-end, here is an example using JRadius.

First, we can quickly parse out the PacketFence DHCP fingerprints file into a HashMap:

private HashMap<String, String> dhcpFingerprints = new HashMap<String, String>();

public void loadDHCPFingerprints() throws Exception {
      URL url = new URL("");
      BufferedReader in = new BufferedReader(new InputStreamReader(url.openStream()));
      String line=null, desc=null;
      boolean fingers=false;

      while ((line = in.readLine()) != null) {
                if (line.startsWith("description=")) {
                          desc = line.substring(12);
                else if (line.startsWith("fingerprints=")) {
                          fingers = true;
                else if (fingers && line.startsWith("EOT")) {
                          fingers = false;
                else if (line.equals("")) {
                          fingers = false;
                          desc = null;
                else if (fingers && desc != null) {
                          String s[] = line.split(",");
                          byte[] key = new byte[s.length]();
                          for (int i=0; i<key.length; i++)
                                    key[i] = (byte) Integer.parseInt(s[i]);
                          String keyString = Hex.byteArrayToHexString(key);
                          dhcpFingerprints.put(keyString, desc);

We only need to do that once. Now, when processing our RADIUS request in JRadius, we can classify the client device:

public String classifyClientDevice(RadiusPacket req) {
    byte[] parameterList = (byte[])
    return dhcpFingerprints.get(Hex.byteArrayToHexString(parameterList));

That’s how you can do it in JRadius, but the same can be done in your preferred FreeRADIUS module.