[ISN] Alberta hackers gear up for International War Driving Day

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Wed Aug 21 2002 - 23:22:22 PDT

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    Globe and Mail Update
    August 21, 2002
    Information technology managers may want to pay close attention to Red
    Deer, Alberta, on Aug. 31, which has been targeted by hackers for a
    "wardriving" day.
    In what is being billed as the first Alberta International Wardriving
    Day, hackers armed with laptop computers outfitted with wireless
    networking gear and global positioning systems will drive around Red
    Deer looking for unprotected wireless computer networks.
    The aim of the game - organizers are calling it a "hobby" - is to see
    which hacker can find the most wireless networks in one day.
    Also called "net stumbling," the game grew out of an earlier activity
    called "war dialing," popularized by the 1983 movie War Games. That
    involved dialing software, which was used to dial many phone numbers
    automatically, looking for lines that are answered by modems.
    The "wardriving" hackers are looking for wireless systems based on a
    standard called 802.11b, which has become very popular in both offices
    and homes where computers are networked. Also called WiFi, the
    high-frequency networks have an effective range of about 30 metres but
    can extend much further.
    WiFi has become popular as part of corporate local-area networks
    (LANs), allowing employees with laptops to go from office to office
    without having to plug their machines into different Ethernet outlets.
    Residential users like them because WiFi means they don't have to
    rewire their homes to connect computers in different areas of the
    The networks are all equipped with varying levels of encryption for
    privacy, but a surprising number of users neglect to activate the
    security features.
    A hacker sitting in a car in a company's parking lot could conceivably
    connect to an "open" network at leisure.
    "Wardriving" organizer Jason Kaczor said that more than 70 per cent of
    networks discovered by hackers driving around use no security
    safeguards at all.
    More insidiously, hackers can use wireless "packet sniffers" to
    capture data travelling across encrypted WiFi networks. They could
    later decode the captured data at their leisure, although the entire
    process involves expensive equipment and a lot of patience.
    In "wardriving," hackers drive around with laptops searching for both
    encrypted and unprotected networks. If they find an "open" one, they
    sometimes mark the site with chalk, placing a symbol on a nearby wall
    or sidewalk. The practice, called "chalking," uses symbols inspired by
    those used by hobos in the Depression, which indicated where other
    hobos could find free food or shelter.
    "Wardriving" organizer Jason Kaczor says there are "tens of thousands"  
    of wireless networks operating throughout the world. He said his group
    has mapped hundreds in Calgary and Edmonton alone.
    Mr. Kaczor says that the game offers no prizes, has no rules and
    offers no glamour, it serves a purpose higher than mere hacking.
    "It is constructive in that it raises awareness with regards to
    privacy, security - or alternatively a complete lack of security - and
    the growing number of wireless networks sending information over,
    around and through an area," he said.
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