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A Quick Guide to Wardriving

The Wi-Fi revolution has brought a lot of freedom indeed. Freedom for our wireless devices, which have started to become more lightweight, and thus portable. And freedom for us, who have started to enjoy browsing the net from the comfort of our bedrooms, without being tied by cables.

These days, lots of people deploy 802.11b wireless networks in their homes. Sadly, many of them forget to take the basic measures that would protect them against all sorts of digital threats.

As a result, a new activity has been invented: wardriving. It is what hackers do, putting up together a hardware / software combo, and then cruising the streets with the goal of discovering and breaking into your Wi-Fi network. Then, they share the results and your GPS coordinates with their fellows.

It's a bit scary, but your network's name, location (and sometimes even the password!) may be listed somewhere on a forum, and a few people may be using your Wi-Fi network, connecting to your devices and accessing your files right now. So, what can you do about it?
First of all, you need to understand how wardriving works. There are several wardriving forums on the Internet, and all you need to do is to Google them. Most security experts are regular visitors at those forums, because this helps them stay ahead of the various threats.
The heart of every wardriving kit is a portable computer. Most wardrivers use laptops, powering them from their cars. Then, hackers need a wireless card - and most of them use one that's got a connector for an external antenna.

They will also use an external antenna, obviously. For best results, people use omnidirectional antennas that are connected to their laptops using sma cables like these ones, and sometimes even add high power Wi-Fi amplifiers.

Finally, a wardriver will need some scanning software. Sadly, there are many powerful applications out there, and most of them are 100% free.

So how do you detect wardrivers? The safest method is to listen for excessive 802.11b probe requests. It's not a 100% accurate method, because even the network clients can generate lots of similar probe requests. Still, if you can identify your own devices that have access to your network, it will be easy to detect probe requests coming from unknown devices.

By not enabling WPA2 encryption and not using a strong password for your Wi-Fi network, you are leaving the door to your network open for any hacker that has a laptop and the knows how to install a free software application. Be smarter than that and do what you need to, protecting your personal information and data.