What you need to know about war drivers

The use of wireless network technology has grown tremendously. Along with the increase in wireless networking comes increasing concerns of both network breeches and data security. Related to this is an activity known as War Driving. Peter Shipley, legendary security expert and long time UNIX hacker, is credited by many as the inventor of War Driving, which is the practice of discovering wireless network access points often for illicit purposes. Within the past year there were at least two widely reported accounts concerning major retailers who compromised customer financial data with sloppy wireless network security. The discovery of those weakly-secured wireless networks may have occurred in this manner. How is it done? Very easily is the short answer. Any person with basic computer expertise can build and deploy a War Driving rig, as they are called. The basic parts are a computer, a suitable wireless network card and software. Optional items include a GPS device for mapping and software that automatically logs the location when an access point is located and saves it for future use. The computer is often a laptop or PDA while the wireless card is often chosen with two important options: a certain chipset, which is the logic behind the card, and an external antenna that war drivers may attach to the roof of a vehicle. War drivers may upload access point info to Web portals for widespread use. Go to www.wigle.net and enter the information for Plattsburgh using the 12901 zip code. Once there youll see an astonishing number of Service Set Identifiers wireless network names. A number of these access points are probably unsecured or, worse yet, secured with easy to defeat WEP encryption. Next week well look at ways to secure a wireless network. Ron Poland is a professor in the Computer Information Systems AAS program at Clinton Community College. Poland is certified in company repair and networking by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). He is also a Cisco certified network assistant.

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