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Published on Apr 02, 2024


Wardriving is searching for Wi-Fi wireless networks by moving vehicle. It involves using a car or truck and a Wi-Fi-equipped computer, such as a laptop or a PDA, to detect the networks. It was also known as 'WiLDing' (Wireless Lan Driving).

Many wardrivers use GPS devices to measure the location of the network find and log it on a website. For better range, antennas are built or bought, and vary from omnidirectional to highly directional. Software for wardriving is freely available on the Internet, notably, NetStumbler for Windows, Kismet for Linux, and KisMac for Macintosh.

Wardriving was named after wardialing because it also involves searching for computer systems with software that would use a phone modem to dial numbers sequentially and see which ones were connected to a fax machine or computer, or similar device.

Introduction of Wardriving

WarDriving is an activity that is misunderstood by many people.This applies to both the general public, and to the news media that has reported on WarDriving. Because the name "WarDriving'* has an ominous sound to it, many people associate WarDriving with a criminal activity WarDriving originated from wardialing, a technique popularized by a character played by Matthew Broderick in the film WarGames, and named after that film. Wardialing in this context refers to the practice of using a computer to dial many phone numbers in the hopes of finding an active modem.

A WarDriver drives around an area,often after mapping a route out first, to determine all of the wireless access points in that area. Once these access points are discovered, a WarDriver uses a software program or Web site to map the results of his efforts. Based on these results, a statistical analysis is performed. This statistical analysis can be of one drive, one area, or a general overview of all wireless networks. The concept of driving around discovering wireless networks probably began the day after the first wireless access point was deployed.

However,WarDriving became more well-known when the process was automated by Peter Shipley, a computer security consultant in Berkeley, California. During the fall of 2000,Shipley conducted an 18-month survey of wireless networks in Berkeley, California and reported his results at the annual DefCon hacker conference in July of 2001.This presentation, designed to raise awareness of the insecurity of wireless networks that were deployed at that time, laid the groundwork for the "true" WarDriver.

The truth about WarDriving :

The reality of WarDriving is simple. Computer security professionals, hobbyists, and others are generally interested in providing information to the public about security vulnerabilities that are present with "out of the box" configurations of wireless access points. Wireless access points that can be purchased at a local electronics or computer store are not geared toward security. They are designed so that a person with little or no understanding of networking can purchase a wireless access point, and with little or no outside help, set it up and begin using it.

Computers have become a staple of everyday life. Technology that makes using computers easier and more fun needs to be available to everyone. Companies such as Linksys and DLink have been very successful at making these new technologies easy for end users to set upand begin using. To do otherwise would alienate a large part of their target market.

According to the FBI, it is not illegal to scan access points, but once a theft of service,denial of service, or theft of information occurs, then it becomes a federal violation. While this is good, general information, any questions about the legality of a specific act in the United States should be posed directly to either the local FBI field office, a cyber crime attorney, or the U.S. Attorney's office.

This information only applies to the United States. WarDrivers are encouraged to investigate the local laws where they live to ensure that they aren't inadvertently violating the law. Understanding the distinction between "scanning" or identifying wireless access points and actully using the access point is understanding the difference between WarDriving, a legal activity, and theft, an obviously illegal activity.

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