Honestly officer, I wasn't wardriving, I swear...

by Chris Williams


I was a bad boy tonight. Ok, well not really, but with a title like that you expect it. no?

Here's the deal: I went out on a call tonight. Spent about an hour working on someone's wireless network. Pretty basic stuff, with no real hiccups. Once I left and started to drive home, I *noticed* my WLAN monitor was still running. Being the curious fella I am, I thought to myself... I wonder how many networks I'll see between here and home. Home is about 3 miles away.

So... driving the speed limit (40MPH), and keeping one eye on the laptop, I counted about 30 wireless networks that I could see. Naturally there were probably a few more that don't broadcast, but I wasn't concerned with them. Of that 30, roughly 6 were "secured" with WEP. I use airquotes here because we don't know how secure they actually are, but anyway...

Out of the remaining 24, about 10 were using something other than the default SSID (like "linksys" or "netgear".) This is the part that tickled me the most. Of those 10, at least 2 of them used misspellings of the default SSID (i.e. lynksis.) I couldn't help but wonder if this was a deliberate attempt to be clever (aka more secure.) LOL Flipping a few letters in the SSID doesn't help much if you broadcast it to the whole neighborhood. To me, it doesn't mean you're clever, it means you can't spell. LOL

annnnnyway, by this point I was almost home and dying to mention it in my blog. No I didn't borrow any bandwidth but I did get a few funny looks from people as I was driving home with the laptop lighting up the inside of the jeep. Or maybe it was my laughter that got their attention.

Will I do this more often? I hate to say it, but probably yeah. I'm a curious type. But I won't be borrowing any bandwidth, since that's stealing. Not to mention it's kinda pointless to try and accomplish anything other than scanning while driving down a major highway.

Is there a point to this post? Well if there must be, I guess it's this: PEOPLE... SECURE YOUR WIRELESS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Seriously though, why do so many people expect computers to work like toasters or blenders? It takes 5 minutes to setup WEP on your wireless network, and that's only if you don't get it right the first time. My brother, god bless him, is a perfect example of this. Plug it in, turn it on, start using it. If it takes more steps than that, it's too complicated.

Computers are not appliances. I don't care what you call them, or how pretty the case is, or if it fits on your entertainment center. Even media center PCs (which are about as close as it gets) are NOT applicances. Do I think they ever will be? Tough call, probably not. But hey, I've been wrong before.

Love me, hate me, praise me, berate me. Tell me what's on your mind.