Wardriving: What is it, how common is it, and how to protect against it.
Wireless networks are growing and spreading very quickly. Wireless networks, based on the (Wi-Fi) 802.11 standards, are being used in homes, near bus stations, airports, colleges, coffee houses, hotels\motels and many other areas. It's a miracle for some who may sit down to enjoy a lunch break, have a cup of java, and browse the internet. Others enjoy the lack of wires streaming from one room to another for home or even small business networks. Some may even access while driving through an area, (not a bright idea I may add) if need be, please pull over to the side of the road, you can't surf if you get in an accident. A wonderful way for some to connect, however,with this growth also comes those who would choose to abuse it rather than use it.
This is where extra measures of security come into play. Are you the type of person who sits down at that coffee house table, browsing, checking e-mails, without the thought that someone may be watching everything you are doing on your computer? Not a problem, you are a Wi-Fi home user, not sitting outside at a coffee table, perfectly safe right? How about at a hotel that includes Wi-Fi , they must be safe, right? If you answered yes to any (oops) you are wrong. Every instance of this technology is unsafe if the proper security measures are not implemented.
A security risk I would like to touch on is Wardriving. The definition in simple terms would be a person\s who drive around in a vehicle with a Wi-Fi capable unit such as a PDA or laptop. What many use is a stumbling utility or GPS (Global Positioning System) which is a satellite navigation system.Wardriving was developed by Pete Shipley in April of 2001. The name WARdriving was derived from WARdialing, taken from the use of computers to dial phone numbers at random to find an answer modem.Some say Wardriving was also named for the 1983 movie War Games where this type of dialing was used. While defined as such, there is no need for those to Wardrive when you can simply walk some blocks with a PDA.
Wardriving has two faces, and the ugly side is what is focused on most. While some may consider it harmless, there are those who taint the name further. "Network Crackers" are a Wi-Fi hacker of sorts that break into your Wi-Fi network connection without permission , (using your home Wi-Fi connection for example) and then proceed to hack your computer to steal data, traffic malicious material from your connection, to have malicous destructive intent to your data, or simply just to use your connection without asking , (piggyback) which can steal your bandwith and slow your connection to a halt in some instances. While the "simply to use your connection" may not seem as bad in terms but if someone is loading child porn from your connection, it can get very serious very quickly.
While I would gladly write many pages on every aspect of the "why" and "how"and technical details of it all, the purpose is for most typical users to secure their connection and to be informed of the dangers of Wardriving. This isn't specific to Windows or other OSs and is simply trying to cover basic methods. That said, let's help protect you Wi-fi connection. First for futher reading on different types of attacks and definitions, see the link below... http://www.microsoft.com/smallbusiness/resources/technology/broadband_mobility/6_wireless_threats_to_your_business.mspx
With Wi-Fi, you don't have a physical connection, this makes things a bit easier for others to pick up on. Your information is out in the open, not through a solid line or cable which gives users less control over protecting their data. Whether setting up a new WLAN or using an open access point, the basis applies to both>
1.) With Wi-Fi network gear, the default settings are typically "Wide Open"choose to NEVER broadcast the (SSID) name. It would also be a good idea to change the default name as well. This will leave you wide open for a hacker or a neighbor who may or may not be a hacker known by title but knows enough to be one and perhaps wants to snoop,especially if you are in a crowded area. As stated previously, if your connection is used for something as horrible as child porn, by a neighbor or hacker, you may find yourself being visited by the F.B.I.
2.) Change the default (if applicable) password and account on the wirless router. With many "admin" is used for both to get you started but is a huge security risk. How do I know it's a huge security risk? Well," I " know it's admin don't I?
3.) With your wireless PCMCIA card, you have a fixed MAC (Media access control) address. MAC address filtering is used to limit the pieces of hardware than may access the wireless network. Just a note, Wlans are more vulnerable to MAC spoofing attacks than wired lans, with the obvious and stated open air problem. This not being secure enough, we need more...
4.) Encryption. Making sure your information is encrypted (unreadable to others other than the reciever it's intended for). A security measure of encryption for this type could also be called , wired equivalent privacy or (WEP) which is an encryption system to keep the baddies out. The newer WPA 2 which uses 802.1x protocol, (Wi-Fi protected access) may be a better method. While this is a very important step, so called eavesdroppers can still get the MAC addresses recording them from frame headers. They can then reconfigure their NIC, (network interface card) to impersonate a wireless station and gain control.
5.) Use DHCP to limit the number of IP addresses, or use static IP addresses.
6.) Many businesses are resorting to using VPN, (virtual private network) which tunnels your information through an IPsec Gateway. Many will say for a typical user, unless you are transmitting sensitive data, this is not needed. Perhaps more for businesses but I feel a good number of typical users will adhere to the idea and many already have.
7.) There are wireless drop viruses out there. A hacker can drop a virus onto your computer to do all sorts of nasty things. I will assume those reading this know what a virus, trojan, malware, and all the goodies are. That said, you need Anti-Virus software installed just as you would (actually more so to speak) on your wired computer. Always make sure to update your virus definition files, an Anti-Virus can't fight well without being told what to look for, so updating is a must. CAV will do just that and is FREE for life.
8.) Just as with wired and once again perhaps more so, you need a firewall for you Wlan. With all these intrusive behaviors, it's obvious that routers alone cannot do the job. They need backup. Just as with your Anti-Virus, keep your firewall up to date as well. Like the Comodo Personal Firewall (CPF) , it has auto setup and has proven "leak proof" even on this setting so if you are a newbie to firewalls, this would be perfect for you. Once again, FREE for life as well.
If you are interested and would like more in depth information, I found this article from Crossroads"The ACM Student Magazine" and goes far more in depth as to the issues and technical aspects of Wi-Fi.... http://www.acm.org/crossroads/xrds11-1/wifi.html
We hope the above article was useful to you and would like to invite you to join our forums and discuss this or other issues you may have with security, get your questions resolved or just help Comodo community.