Lua post dissector for Wireshark

Wednesday, 27 November 2013
Écrit par
Grégory Soutadé

Logo Wireshark

Wireshark (previously Ethereal) is the best open source protocol dissector/analyzer. You can analyze an incredible amount of protocols, not only Internet ones, but every stream based protocols. Moreover you can add your own filters/dissectors written either in C or in Lua. Nevertheless, the documentation on the net concerning Lua dissectors is light and sparse. It's been hard for me to make something that works even if it's, at the end, not really complicated. I'll try to explain the basis of Lua dissectors.

1) Installation

You need to have a wireshark that supports Lua support (wireshark -v). After that, create or edit ~/.wireshark/init.lua. To load a new plugin, just type


Create the new file ~/.wireshark/mydissector.lua

2) Post Dissector

There are three types of dissectors :

  • Dissector : you add your own protocol
  • Chained dissector : you add new fields to an existing protocol
  • Post dissector : you interact after all packets has been parsed

An example for each of one can be found here. I'll describe a post dissector, but other types of dissectors has pretty the same format.

Tip 1
If you want to display someting on the console, just do


Tip 2
If the base array is not defined, add this to ~/.wireshark/init.lua

-- Display Bases base = { ["NONE"] = 0, ["DEC"] = 1, ["HEX"] = 2, ["OCT"] = 3, ["DEC_HEX"] = 4, ["HEX_DEC"] = 5, }

First, you need to define your protocol : Proto(<internal name>, <displayed name>)

p_dummyproto = Proto("dummyproto","DummyProto")

Then, define your fields : ProtoField.TYPE(<internal name>, <displayed name>, [base], [values], [mask])
TYPE are defined here

-- Simple field without value local f_X = ProtoField.uint16("dummyproto.f_X","Field X") -- Simple field displayed in hex format local f_Y = ProtoField.uint8("dummyproto.f_Y","Field Y", base.HEX) -- Field with precomputed values and bitfield local VALS_ZZ = {[0] = "Single", [1] = "Dual"} local f_Z = ProtoField.uint8("dummyproto.f_Z","Field Z", base.HEX, VALS_ZZ, 0x3)

Third step is to register each field

p_dummyproto.fields = {f_X, f_Y, f_Z}

After that, the big part : protocol dissection. Fields are organized as a tree. You have to parse each byte (or range of bytes) in the given buffer and append your fields. Be careful : objects returned by :add function has userdata type and cannot be directly manipulated.

function p_dummyproto.dissector(buffer,pinfo,tree) -- Access to another field local f_udp_port ="udp.port") -- If it exists and has the right value if f_udp_port and tostring(f_udp_port) == tostring(5555) then -- Add our protocol dissection with data in buffer[17, 17+14] local subtree = tree:add(p_dummyproto, buffer(17,14)) -- Add a subtree to our root for the first two bytes local t = subtree:add(f_X, buffer(17, 2)) -- Add a sub subtree local t2 = t:add(f_Y, buffer(17, 1)) -- Parse sub data parse_data(t, buffer, 18) end end function parse_data(tree, buffer, start) -- Wireshark integrate bitop from luajit field_1 = buffer(start, 1):uint() field_1 =, 0x3) -- You can also append free text information to current field if field_1 < 16 then tree:append_text(" field information") end end

Finally register your post dissector


A complete example can be found here. It's a full reimplementation of ARP protocol dissector in Lua.

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