Daily Archives: 13 October 2023

Decrypting Firefox Traffic Using Wireshark in Ubuntu GNU/Linux

Wireshark is a powerful network protocol analyzer that lets you capture and analyze real-time network traffic. By default, Wireshark does not decrypt encrypted traffic, such as HTTPS, as it is designed to maintain security and privacy. However, there are cases where decrypting network traffic can be helpful in debugging or analyzing security issues. This blog post will guide you through the steps to decrypt Firefox traffic using Wireshark in Ubuntu GNU/Linux.

Step 1: Download and Extract Firefox:

Since Ubuntu uses the snap package manager to install Firefox, which does not provide access to the file system by default, we need to download Firefox from the official website as a tar.gz archive. Open your browser and navigate to the Mozilla Firefox website (https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/) to download the tar.gz package suitable for your Ubuntu version.

Once the download is complete, navigate to the downloaded location and extract the tar.gz file using the following command:

tar -xvf firefox-<version>.tar.gz;

Step 2: Set up the SSLKEYLOGFILE Environment Variable:

To enable Wireshark to decrypt the SSL/TLS traffic from Firefox, we need to set up the SSLKEYLOGFILE environment variable. This variable will point to a log file where Firefox will write the session keys used for encryption. Execute the following command in the terminal:

export SSLKEYLOGFILE="/home/$USER/.ssl-key.log";

This command sets the SSLKEYLOGFILE environment variable to the specified file path, which is /home/$USER/.ssl-key.log. Feel free to change the file path and name to your preference.

Step 3: Launch Wireshark and Configure Preferences:

Open the terminal and start Wireshark by entering the following command:


Once Wireshark runs, go to “Edit” in the menu bar and select “Preferences” from the dropdown menu. This will open the Wireshark Preferences window.

Step 4: Configure TLS Protocol Preferences:

In the Preferences window, locate and select “Protocols” on the left-hand side. Scroll down the protocols list and find “TLS”. Click on it to expand the options.

Within the TLS section, you will find a field labeled “(Pre)-Master-Secret log filename”. Click on the folder icon next to the field and browse to select the file path for the SSLKEYLOGFILE we set earlier.

After selecting the file path, click the “OK” button to save the changes and close the Preferences window.

Step 5: Capture and Decrypt Firefox Traffic:

With the configuration set up, you can now start capturing and decrypting Firefox traffic. Keep the Wireshark application running and launch the Firefox browser you downloaded and extracted earlier.

Wireshark will capture the network traffic as you browse the web using Firefox. You should be able to see the decrypted traffic in the Wireshark capture window.


Decrypting network traffic using Wireshark can be valuable for analyzing and troubleshooting network-related issues. This blog post covered the steps to decrypt Firefox traffic using Wireshark in Ubuntu GNU/Linux. By downloading Firefox directly from the website, setting up the SSLKEYLOGFILE environment variable, and configuring Wireshark preferences, you can capture and analyze unencrypted network traffic within Wireshark. Remember to use this technique responsibly and respect the privacy of others while conducting network analysis.