[ISN] Alberta hackers find wireless networks wide open

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Wed Sep 04 2002 - 22:39:01 PDT

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    Globe and Mail Update
    Tuesday, September 3
    Alberta hackers have discovered that two-thirds of the province's
    wireless computer networks are operating with an unsecured connection.
    The results were collected during a highly unorganized "international
    wardriving day" held Saturday in Red Deer, Alta.
    "Wardriving" - sometimes called "net stumbling" - is a game that grew
    out of an earlier activity called "war dialing," which was popularized
    in the 1983 movie War Games. In that film, software was used to dial
    many phone numbers automatically, looking for lines that are answered
    by modems.
    In "wardriving," hackers drive around with computers outfitted with
    wireless connectors searching for signals 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
    The aim of "wardriving" is to find a network that has not been
    encrypted, one that allows any passerby equipped with a device using
    the 802.11b standard to log in without effort.
    Organizer Jason Kaczor said that of the 495 wireless networks his
    group found on its brief day-long tour through parts of Alberta, only
    172 - 34 per cent - are encrypted. The remaining 66 per cent are
    In the Alberta version of "wardriving day," three vehicles cruised
    through Red Deer.
    Between 6 a.m., when Mr. Kaczor left Calgary for Red Deer, and 8 a.m.,
    he said he found more than 300 wireless networks. Within the first 90
    minutes he spent in Red Deer, he found about 40.
    "Almost everything found within Red Deer is open," he said.
    There were some initial errors, he said, because a number of the
    machines he found that had been named "home" and secured with
    encryption were probably field laptops used by a construction company.
    Hackers in other cities searched for wireless networks the same day.  
    In Baltimore, Maryland, their efforts were frustrated by heavy rain,
    which dampens the signals used by the wireless devices.
    "We know from previous experience in both Calgary and Edmonton that
    this is only the surface," said Mr. Kaczor. "I've personally only been
    through a tiny portion of Calgary, and then I was not even venturing
    deep into suburbia.
    "Saturday morning I was picking the low-hanging fruit. The University
    of Calgary has about nine or 10 wireless access points, only three of
    which were encrypted. Not good."
    All of the networks at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in
    Calgary, however, are encrypted, he added.
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