Wardriving for WLAN security

The 4th Annual Worldwide Wardrive is under way this week, with volunteers scanning the airwaves in a neighborhood near you for WLAN access points.

This year's WLAN discovery effort began June 12 and runs through June 19.

The WWWD is organized by a mixed group of security professionals and hobbyists who cruise areas to document the location of access points and how many of them have even minimal security. The goal is to boost awareness of the need to secure residential and corporate WLANs.

So far, the results seem to be almost as disquieting this year as in past years.

The WWWD and other surveys have repeatedly found a heavy majority of access points with no security features at all. Many of these devices use the default service set identifier (SSID) set by the manufacturer, often as simple as the vendor's name, broadcast the SSID so that any interested client can hear it and connect, and don't use the basic Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) encryption protocol.

WWWD4 thus far has identified nearly 200,000 networks. You can find a partial summary of statistics at https://wigle.net/gps/gps/GPSDB/stats/?eventid=1. Of the 200,000 networks, 34 percent have WEP active. In 2003, the wardrivers identified 88,122 networks, of which 32 percent had WEP active.

A clickable map lets you zoom in to specific access points and identify their SSID if available.

If you have some spare time, the WWWD is still looking for drivers. Details are on the Web site at http://www.worldwidewardrive.org/.

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