[ISN] Chalk symbols expose London's wireless points

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Tue Jul 02 2002 - 02:30:43 PDT

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    Forwarded from: Aj Effin Reznor <ajat_private>
    [My favourite part: "There are concerns that systems administrators
    could be at risk from having their networks exposed to the general
    public."  If they think chalk markings are violating their security,
    they need to look a little further than just the writing on the wall.  
    The problem is there regardless.  -aj.]
    Chalk symbols expose London's wireless points
    By Rene Millman  [27-06-2002]
    'Warchalking' takes the capital by storm
    Mysterious chalk symbols have appeared almost overnight in London, 
    believed to be created by a gang of nerds set on revealing the city's 
    wireless hot spots.
    "Warchalking", as it is known, derives from the practice of tramps in 
    1930s depression-hit America leaving chalk messages to each other to 
    indicate where they could get food and shelter.
    Today, the set of symbols tells other geeks, or "Wibos" as they are 
    known, where they can get a free wireless internet connection.
    Symbols written on the pavement indicate whether the wireless network 
    is open, closed or encrypted. Above the symbol is the network's Service 
    Set ID (SSID), which is used to identify the particular wireless Lan to 
    be accessed. Below the symbol is the amount of bandwidth on offer.
    Anyone with knowledge of the symbols would be able to set up a laptop 
    or PDA with the relevant settings and connect to a company's network 
    to surf the internet or pick up email for free.
    The new wave idea of warchalking was invented by web designer Matt 
    Jones, who got the idea after seeing some architectural students chalk 
    up a life-size office plan in a London square.
    "The chalk plan had door and window symbols and the URL of the student's 
    website depicted. I thought it was fun, but not that useful," said Jones. 
    "It just illustrated the possibility to passers-by that outdoor wireless 
    net access could happen, but didn't tell them how to join in."
    After talking with some friends about how this idea could be turned into 
    something more useful, a friend mentioned the symbols used by hobos to get 
    meals. Jones then set up a weblog to expose the idea to the world. Since 
    then he has been overwhelmed by emails from people eager to get involved 
    with the project.
    There are concerns that systems administrators could be at risk from having 
    their networks exposed to the general public. But Jones believes this could 
    be a positive thing in promoting the need for wireless security.
    "If you see the chalk symbols appearing, then you know that you have an 
    exposure to the public - you can deal with this how you will," he said. 
    "Some enlightened companies might provide an open node for the public, 
    others may choose to limit access," he said.
    Matt Jones's warchalking web site can be found here 
    ( http://www.blackbeltjones.com/warchalking/ ) .
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