Pardon Me While I Wardrive

It’s such a beautifully geeky term: wardriving. I was wardriving last night. I wardrove from dinner to the station and then wardrove home. Actually with Ann at the wheel after dinner I was wardriven.

But I digress.

Wardriving is the act of searching for Wi-Fi wireless networks by a person in a moving vehicle, using a portable computer or PDA.

To quote the commercials, “There’s an app for that.” I loaded WiFiFoFum on my iPhone and fired it up.

Just driving across New Haven brought 274 access points. My drive home produced another 473 with the only signal free spot corresponding to the desolate exit ramp/overpass/interchage connecting I-91 with CT-40.

The good news is nowadays most APs are encrypted. In most cases you couldn’t sit in a car watching in-the-clear web traffic fly by or park outside most houses to ‘borrow’ WiFi (something I’ve done more than once in years past).

The bad news is these APs still give off enough data that a company scouring the roads, like Google, will be able to associate your anonymous Internet surfing with your physical location and this happens even if the signal is encrypted!

The map below is clickable so you can get a feel for the clusters of these tiny transceivers and what kind of data they’re revealing. Some of the markers represent multiple APs in close proximity. It’s all very interesting and at least a tiny bit scary.

View Larger Map

2 Responses to “Pardon Me While I Wardrive”

  1. KE4GNK says:

    I’m not surprised at the number of hot spots on your relatively short drive.

    What is disturbing is the number of them with the manufacturer’s unsecure defult name on them. Most of the folks that have some smarts change the name and set up some form of security.

    Sadly, most folks unbox the wireless device, plug it in, and turn it on…and then wonder why they are being hacked (assuming they are even aware of it).

  2. DAF says:

    There’s an independent coffee shop out here that has free WIFI for CUSTOMERS ONLY. There’s no passcode. Is that a good idea in a day and age when people can do bad things (download movies / etc) off of your IP? I enjoy using it, but I’m somewhat concerned for the friendly owners.

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