Wellington war drivers join worldwide drive

Wellington 'war drivers' will be among those taking part in a World-Wide War Drive later this month. It will involve hobbyist wireless LAN (WLAN) war drivers trying to detect and map unsecured WLAN systems.

Wellington "war drivers" will be among those taking part in a World-Wide War Drive later this month. It will involve hobbyist wireless LAN (WLAN) war drivers trying to detect and map unsecured WLAN systems.

A loosely organised band of WLAN sniffer hobbyists plans to conduct the drive from October 26 to November 2. So far, hobbyists covering Wellington; Perth, Australia; Barcelona, Spain; parts of the US and Canada; and Germany have indicated that they plan to participate in the exercise.

Using notebooks equipped with WLAN cards and sniffing freeware, such as NetStumbler, the hobbyists detected and precisely mapped (using Global Positioning System receivers) 9374 WLAN access points in the first World-Wide War Drive, which ran from August 31 to September 7. Almost 70%, or 6549 of the access points, didn't have the simplest form of WLAN security, Wired Equivalent Protocol, turned on.

In August last year a joint Computerworld-PC World team was able to sniff out almost 30 wireless LANs, only four of which were secured, during a sweep thorugh Auckland (see Wireless LANs found wide open).

(The term war driving is derived from "war-dialing" - a term made famous by the exploits of the teenage hacker character in the 1983 movie WarGames, who has his computer randomly dial hundreds of numbers and eventually winds up tapping into a nuclear command-and-control system.)

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