Passive OS Fingerprinting

Active measures, like those employed by Nmap, are unfortunately not available when doing passive analysis of live traffic or when analyzing previously captured network traffic. Passive analysis requires much more subtle variations in the network traffic to be observed, in order to identify a computer’s OS. A simple but effective passive method is to inspect the initial Time To Live (TTL) in the IP header and the TCP window size (the size of the receive window) of the first packet in a TCP session, i.e. the SYN or SYN+ACK packet.

via Passive OS Fingerprinting – NETRESEC Blog.