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May. 30th, 2005

A little less than two hours; a little less than twenty miles on the scooter. 2,638 access points cataloged; 1,100 without encryption.

Wardriving is the pastime of driving around and surveying wireless access points. The name is based on ‘wardialing’, the old-time act of dialing every number in an exchange to see which ones had modems attached. An access point is any place where someone has plugged in a wireless router or hub.

I’ve been becoming more interested in wireless security, so I decided to check out wardriving. With my new tablet PC, I can set up a very compact and discreet scanning rig, consisting of the PC, an external high-gain antenna, and a GPS, all tucked into a backpack.

My initial experiments were from the apartment. From my front window, I could ‘see’ 27 access points. From all of the windows in the apartment, 86. In all cases, just under half of the access points were not using encryption; anyone could connect to them.

Driving down the peninsula and over to the east bay yesterday, in about forty-five minutes I communicated with over 1400 access points, just sweeping the right-hand side of the road.

I spent a few hours yesterday trying to survey wireless points by goped but the computer kept shutting down. I finally realized it was a heat issue and dealt with that by having the fan stay on all the time and aligning the exhaust from the notebook out an opening of my backpack. The antenna is a directional antenna and aims straight out the back; though I think I’d get more returns if I angled the antenna to one side and then did sweeps.

This is interesting, though extremely pointless. I think I’ll put this to work back home, though. Not the scooter part, of course.



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 31st, 2005 04:17 pm (UTC)
That reminds me of when I lived in Germany. Their government people used to drive around in station wagons equipped with a directional antenna looking for TV local oscillator radiations, in order to catch people who hadn't paid their TV tax. It didn't aaply to me because we had won the war so I didn't have to pay the tax, besides which I lived in an apartment and used a common house antenna.
One question- how about security? If Defense Department computers are using such wireless devices, it would seem to raise the possibility of compromising classified information. There might be some money in a study project for the Defense Department on this.
May. 31st, 2005 04:57 pm (UTC)
Hey, Uncle.

Security is poor, at best, for present commercial wireless networks. Even for encrypted networks, there are published 'exploits' to beat WEP (wireless encryption protocol), the current 'strong' solution. One can find holes in the keys with a few hours of computational time. Most sensitive commercial entities disallow the use of wireless devices on their networks.

My second-to-next experiment, for what it's worth, is to hack our wep-protected network at home for proof of concept. My very next experiment is to set up a big outdoor omni-directional antenna at the office to improve access speeds to the house and to provide 'free' service to my friends all over town. I have to pay top-dollar for my business broadband solely because it is business service; however, I am allowed to share it.

Once I have the hang of the wireless surveying and WEP hacks, I will be in good shape to start driving my local area and contacting the at-risk businesses. I happened to get lucky in this respect with my current big client; I opened my laptop to get some bit of information when I pulled up in the parking lot for my interview and found that I could jump onto thier network... They were a little surprised. Now, of course, they are running 128-bit WEP.
Jun. 1st, 2005 03:40 am (UTC)
At each point, you should try sending out the e-mail message, "Can you hear me now? Good."

Man, I need sleep.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


Bjamexza Q. Pyndejo / James O. Payne, Jr.
Bxiie Q. Pyndejo

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