What is Wardriving? How to prevent Wardriving attacks at home

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The term might sound familiar, but you may be wondering, “what is wardriving in cyber security?” Put simply, it’s the act of looking for publicly accessible WiFi networks to exploit, normally from a moving vehicle using a laptop or even a smartphone. So what is its purpose? It is mostly to survey the various wireless connections available, correlating them with their geographic location.

Here we’ll be explaining the methods that hackers use to explore vulnerable networks, and also going through how to prevent wardriving attacks for your home’s cyber protection.

The most common Wardriving attack methods

Wardrivers who are successful in gaining access might be interested in stealing your personal data and sensitive information. The scary thing is that it’s actually quite easy. They may simply use the entry into your open network to install malware, allowing them to control what they like. Adepts can get into servers in minutes, so we thought we’d shift the power, and explain how it works so you can prevent yourself from wardriving attacks. Here are two wardriving techniques:

1. The old-school method

For the first wardriving method, all that’s needed is a laptop, a virtual machine, a GPS (global positioning system), and an external WiFi card. The hardware can all be easily obtained and can be connected to a laptop via a USB port, making them more portable. The most common network detecting tools are Airmon-ng and Kismet, whose instructions for correct use can be found in its official repository. By then linking to an unencrypted network, war drivers can actually ‘piggyback’, getting a free internet ride. Any activities can be traced back to the network they’ve gained entry to. It grants access to the computers too, making data and details vulnerable to hacking.

2. Using a smartphone

Nowadays, there are various apps that are very handy for performing wardriving techniques. One of them is WiGLE WiFi wardriving. It provides access to the many other users of its community who share their results, thus giving war drivers a more extensive overview. One interesting feature is its automatic integration with Google Maps and Street View, which is a very visual way to see network density by looking at the area you're interested in. As you would imagine, this is the simplest way war drivers latch onto networks.

How to Prevent Wardriving Attacks at Home

A lack of adequate security could make you an easily compromised target. So, follow these tips as a bit of a checklist to ensure you’re doing everything you can to prevent your devices from experiencing a wardriving attack:

  • Change the router’s administrative password. Default passwords are easily available on the internet, so the first thing you should do is change the network name and password. Protecting your router is very important.
  • Enable Encryption. Use routers that allow you to set WPA (WiFi Protected Access) and WPA2 (WiFi Protected Access 2) encryption. It’s always advisable to use WPA2 protocol when it’s possible. 
  • Use a Firewall. Firewalls monitor the traffic coming in and out of your network, so it’ll stop unauthorised users from gaining access.
  • When it’s not in use, turn it off. If you are out somewhere, on holiday, or just not using the network for an extended period, shut it down to avoid all threats.
  • Install Antivirus Software. To tighten up security, install trusted antivirus software such as our ESET home antivirus, offering end-to-end protection across all network devices.


Other dangerous Wardriving locations

Now that you know how to prevent wardriving attacks, it’s good to understand the other locations you need to be wary of. These days, many public buildings and spaces like airports, malls, and restaurants offer free WiFi, which you can connect to without needing to enter a password. Communications over them are not encrypted and could easily be spied on and modified for malicious purposes. For this reason, we do not recommend using this type of network, or at least not for actions that require sensitive information.

Behind every WiFi network, there is a security level that normally corresponds to security protocols like WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), and WPA. Of course, the less secure ones are those which do not have any kind of protocol or protection, described as open networks.

As for WEP protocol, it offers limited security levels, which means an attacker could quickly and easily find the network password using simple techniques. This would mean that devices connected to such networks would be exposed. WPA and WPA2 protocols are also subject to many attacks, but they require attackers to have more time and skills. 

Wardriving is a relatively old technique, but it’s still clearly a danger. Up your cybersecurity to prevent all types of dodgy activity, including wardriving attacks. Cover your bases with ESET’s products. Browse our antivirus solutions for the home to discover all the protection your devices could need.