The FBI takes an interest in War Chalking and War Driving

by Rob Flickenger

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This just in, from PersonalTelco.

The FBI is evidently concerned about War Driving and War Chalking being used as tools for compromising corporate and other private networks.

This was just posted to PTP, apparently from Special Agent Bill Shore of the FBI. (I'd check his PGP signature, if he had used one...):

"Identifying the presence of a wireless network may not be a criminal violation, however, there may be criminal violations if the network is actually accessed including theft of services, interception of communications, misuse of computing resources, up to and including violations of the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Statute, Theft of Trade Secrets, and other federal violations."

It's certainly good to stay aware of who's saying what about your network, but could "identifying the presence of a wireless network" really be considered a federal offense?

Should Wardriving and Warchalking be considered a federal offense?


Jonathan Gennick
2002-08-14 07:14:15
Identifying a network illegal?

but could "identifying the presence of a wireless network" really be considered a federal offense?

I certainly hope not, and it concerns me that an FBI agent would even consider that such could be the case. To quote him:

"Identifying the presence of a wireless network may not be a criminal violation...

Imagine if it were a crime to walk down mainstreet and identify the presence of a business. Imagine going to a conference and firing up your notebook to see whether you have 802.11 connectivity only to be hauled off to jail. Perhaps someday we'll all need to echo Seargent Schult's famous line: "I see nothing!"

Certainly breaking into a network should be a crime of some sort. I have no real problem with that. And that's where I see war chalking as a questionable practice. Is there a reason to do it other than to make notes about whose network can be broken into?

Here's a related question: what if I sit down on some random streetside bench and find that I have wireless network connectivity? Do I assume that the network was left open so that passers-by can use it? Or do I assume that it was left open inadvertently, and thus that I should not use it? Which assumption will the law make? Which assumption should the law make?

2002-10-02 22:58:09
war chalking is not a crime
the signal is a radio wave. the radio waves are public domain if you dont want someone to use your signal use encription.
2003-08-13 05:28:18
Identifying a network illegal?
The great "trend" is being at the right spot, at the right time. This is what chalking seems to be. You find, you connect. The whole thing is stupid and a destruction of the image that the world needs to get of Wi-Fi. ISP's are thrilled at every chalk mark. ONE MORE MARK AGAINST REAL FREE WIFI. Let the fools that work out RARP-IP's NOT mess with chalking for they destroy the image 4 the poor man's server. A system where Wi-Fi free services will help "third world nations" and places like CUBA and parts of ASIA get freedom and join the web.


2006-01-24 19:40:06
Good Lord
I have run every one of my wi-fi stations wide open using firewalls on the PC's only.
What I find interesting here is that it would be considered by anyone to be pirating of services when the station throws you an IP and invites you in.
This is a boatload of crap. I have yet to see or hear of anyone being convicted of using a hot spot. I have heard of people being arrested (because there are not yet enough terrorists to keep the FBI and police busy at this time. However, if there are convictions then perhaps there could also be arrests and convictions for running open wi-fi nets that drop IP's upon unsuspecting users of wi-fi enabled machines.
This is bunk!