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Warflying: San Diego 168

geogeek6_7 writes: "WarFlying over SanDiego reveals hundreds of WAPs, and some very interesting statistics. There is a second write up of the same adventure at the pilot's personal website. All this of course should not be confused with that 1500ft 'WarDriving' effort in Australia."
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Warflying: San Diego

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  • How long until someone makes a law prohibiting this sort of action?
    • Re:Regulations? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by doublesix ( 590400 )
      How, exactly, would this law be enforced? How long until someone makes a law against knee-jerk 'the man will keep us down' posts.
      • I never said it could be enforced. I just suspect sooner or later someone will try to develop some regulation to prevent this sort of thing. This isn't a knee-jerk reaction, and im not a 15 year old on a 3000 dollar computer my parents bought. I think that, in the same way it is illegal to tune in your neighbor's old cell phone on your scanner (which is un-enforcable), it will be illegal to listen to packets on another person's WAN. I'm not saying I would agree with the law or disagree, I was just placing the question in a place where others could offer their oppinion. Ben
        • The problems with making 'wardialing' illegal is that it's often done by accident. Consider the case of the guy who had a public access site up, and got overrun by StarBucks. Some of these people didn't want StarBucks. Are we going to throw people in jail because someone put up a conflicting access point?
      • The answer, my friend, is blowin in the wind...
      • "How, exactly, would this law be enforced? "

        I'd send a few villagers over to build a couple of SAM sites.
        • "I'd send a few villagers over to build a couple of SAM sites."

          Not a bad idea! SAM sites only cost $600 and are fully automatic. Villagers work for 50 food. The only problem is that you'll have to keep your supply of wood up so you can build more power generators!
    • Since he has to get on the network to know where and what is there, he has already used the internal servers of that network.

      If he didn't have permission to use that network, he has already broken federal computer crime laws.
      • Nope, as said before, he looked at the broadcasts from the WAPs and discerned from there.

        It would be the same as me listening to music you broadcast over the radio (i.e. one of those cd-car radio thingys.) I could be driving by you, and tune into your "music" by accident... nothing illegal.

    • By posting or linking to this type of material you are assisting an action that could easily be called terrorism. Consider yourselves reported...

      Yeah, maybe that's overreacting. But what would you think of someone who went all over your neighborhood checking for unlocked doors, and then published a map of the results?

      Sheesh!
  • Range (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Hayzeus ( 596826 )
    At one point we had to ascend to 2500', and yet the APs still kept rolling in. I guess the lack of intervening metal, wood, and concrete made a big difference. I didn't see a drop off in the home use (Linksys, etc) or the commercial (Cisco, etc.) APs.

    Not really surprising. With no intervening obstacles (or even a horizon) even a weak signal in the 2 ghz range can have incredible range. It might be amusing to try this kind of thing with a big tethered balloon in an urban area.

    • Never underestimate the power of a small yagi antenna. This compact miracle antenna can be aimed like a laser pointer into the windows of buildings miles away.
  • Obsessive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @01:04PM (#4157830) Homepage
    I don't get this obsession with finding WLANs.

    Okay, there are a lot of wireless access points out there. Okay, many of them aren't secured very well (if at all).

    So what? Why is it worth so much effort to reillustrate this point over and over again? Sure, Wardriving was a neat concept the first time someone pointed it out, but this is just more of the same thing. What's next? Wartraining? "Look, we got on these wireless LANs while riding the El in Chicago! Why the hell do we have to obsess on this over and over again? This has been overdone to the point where I'm sure we'll see a UserFriendly strip about it!

    Okay, rant over. Sorry.

    • by crow ( 16139 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @01:09PM (#4157871) Homepage Journal
      If only I could get a grant to fund doing this sort of "research." I want to do war sailing. I intend to chart all the unsecured access points I can find in the middle of the ocean.
      • I know some guys at work who I'm sure would like to try wardiving (with no 'r'). All they need is someone to provide them with a couple of water-proof laptops and wireless NICs.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      If you try wardriving at 2500', you'll end up dead in a crushed car about 13 seconds later. See, this is not "just more of the same thing".
    • This news is good, but only if it makes it to the small managerial brains that run banks and such. Sure, the networks are insecure, but we are not talking about leaking office pr0n into the wild, it's about your credit card, and mine, being exposed all over the place. I'm to lazy to get the link, but didn't just this kind of thing happen to BestBuy?

      • Sure, the networks are insecure, but we are not talking about leaking office pr0n into the wild, it's about your credit card, and mine, being exposed all over the place.

        Whatever, that's the credit card companies problem, not mine.

    • I don't get this obsession with finding WLANs.

      It's the high-tech equivalent of rubbernecking to see the accident on the oncoming lanes of the highway.

    • by flogger ( 524072 ) <non@nonegiven> on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @01:27PM (#4157993) Journal
      I was reading /.'s article [slashdot.org] about warchalking the other day and my wife asked what I was reading! This is rare as she is familiar with the slashdot masthead and has always stayed away whilst I read. Anyway, I tell her. Our resulting conversation was like this:
      Wife: God, some people have way too much time.
      Me: yea pretty wild huh.
      Wife: Why are you grinning like that.
      Me: huh? I'm not grinning.
      Wife: You aren't thinking of going out to do this are you?
      Me: Can't. I don't have wireless connectivity.
      Wife: You've got DSL.
      Me: --Edited speech about differences between dialup, dsl, wireless, 801b.11 blah blah blah.--
      Wife: So you're telling me that you want to buy a laptop and walk around town with it?
      Me: I didn't say that. We don't have the money anyway.
      Wife: You'd do it though, wouldn't you?
      Me: I dunno.
      Wife: You would do it! Why the hell would you want to walk around and pry into other people computer networks.
      Me: Dunno. Curiosity?
      Wife: What? Curiosity. I might be curious to know why the neighbors are moaning so loud every night after letterman, but you don't see me over there with my x-10 camera laptop!

      From there the discussion went downhill....

      (ok moderators: Off topic, Funny, REAL LIFE)
      • Because you might need the net in an emergency or something.

        Say the international compter conspiracy ("The Beast") targets you and you, and suddenly you are being chased by the secret police and you need to hack into various agencies to clear your name or expose the truth to the public!! ....

        Maybe your wife is right, but I bet you if she heard a juicy conversation that got crossed over the neighbors baby monitor to yours, she would listen.
    • What's the big deal?

      Well, if I had a new klez worm varient to unleash, what better way to introduce it to the world than jumping on some poor sap's low security WAN?

      Crack attempts, spam, kiddie porn, whatever. Any internet activity that people avoid for fear of being traced down can be easily, safely pulled off by leeching off of some poor sap's WAN.

      I'm glad to see geeks making a fuss about a glaring security hole like this. The more fuss, the more press, the more dummies with LinkSys wireless routers start securing their connections.
    • Re:Obsessive (Score:3, Interesting)

      by VivianC ( 206472 )
      What's next? Wartraining? "Look, we got on these wireless LANs while riding the El in Chicago!

      Wartraining? What a great idea! If anyone does this, I'd love to know where I can check e-mail along the METRA Northwest Line. I imagine the metal train cars might make the connection difficult.
    • The next thing is: warcoptering, maybe warballooning. See, with wardriving you're limited to highways, war flying you pass over a target and only get a few seconds connectivity. But with warcoptering you can hover over a target and send out your entire spam payload. Drawback is that BigCorp with boobs for it mgmt might get suspicious of a 'Copter thupping overhead for a half hour. A balloon is pretty much at the mercy of the wind, but warzeppelening might have some possibilities, or warderigibeling.

      FWIW, 'war' is 'Wireless Access Reconnisance'.

    • "I don't get this obsession with finding WLANs."

      (my) motivation : have fun !
  • ...over /. once again. Many here decry the government's attempts at gaining access to information through laws and other legal avenues yet you also have no problems poking your noses in other people's networks without permission or through legal means. Regardless of how open these networks might be you have no right to acces them nor use their bandwidth for your own personal enjoyment. One might get the that many /.'ers are self-centered narcissists.

    • Who said anything about accessing these networks? He just scanned for them. If I walked around looking at phone boxes on the sides of buildings, I wouldnt' be guilty of making calls on them. I cant imagine at 2500ft. that he would be in range of one station long enough to even load Slashdot.


      I mostly find this interesting just because it is. Ham radio fans still have contests to see who can bounce their signal off the moon, and who can contact the furthest stations. There are a lot of dorks out there, and we need something to entertain us.

    • If you'd read, you'd see that they didn't access the networks, just scanned for APs. The author specifically states that he doesn't access the networks he finds, and talks about setting up his own unsecured AP for the sake of seeing how far away he can get in a plane and still access it.
    • ...poking your noses in other people's networks without permission or through legal means...
      I'm sympathetic to you frustration with the distorted ethics often seen around these parts. In this case, however, your criticism is mistaken: the author spcifically disabled the IP stack on the XP laptop to ensure that no such intrusion could take place, even inadvertently.
    • Had you read the article, I dying fad for /. readers I fear, you would have seen that the entire excersise was devoted to:

      a) Science - how many connections can we see warflying?

      b) Curiousity - can we see these connections form the air

      c) Good Hacking - Alerting people that there are hundereds of unprotected or poorly protected nodes which may belong to businesses or military instillations, nevermind individuals.

      It's sad to see how fast some people jump to conclusions and think that just because people have the power to exploit security flaws that they will.
  • has got to be a bitch.

    Very interesting statistics, though. With all the SSID's left at the default name it makes you wonder if any of these AP's have been secured.
    • It's called skywriting. Just gotta watch out for those gusts of wind.
    • I believe there are a lot of insecure WAPs out there because there are a lot of computers with nothing of interest on them. (or at least nothing the owner thinks would be of interest to anyone). And what do I care if someone leeches a little bandwidth now and then? Most users wouldn't even notice or know how to find out if someone was using their WAP.
    • Even more interesting, since it is usually very easy to change it and then turn off SSID broadcasts on the access point, rendering stuff like netstumbler pretty much ineffective. All this basic security without even using wep.
  • by Radi-0-head ( 261712 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @01:15PM (#4157912)
    When I was a kid, my friend's mom was a realtor. We learned that when houses were put up for sale, most of the realtors set the dip switches in the garage door openers to a few easy combinations: on,off,on,off,on,etc... or the first half of switches on, the second half off, or vice versa.


    Armed with this information, we took a few common brands of garage door opener (Genie, MultiCode, Sears, etc.) and set them to these combinations. We then hopped on our bikes and started riding around the neighborhood clicking the buttons. You wouldn't believe how many garage doors opened.


    I sort of drew a parallel between unsecured WAPs and these unsecured garage doors. It was remarkably easy to do. Most people have no clue how to change the dip switches on their garage doors, just like most people have no idea how to change the default SSID, disable SSID broadcasts, and enable encryption.


    Because of what I learned about the security (or lack thereof) of the typical garage door opener, I now have a much more secure Linear DX Code receiver controlling my garage, just in case some kids get the same idea I once had.

    :)

    • Along the same lines, I've wondered about the security of the keyless entry systems in cars. Going up and manually checking a key to see if it works is a little more dangerous, since you would be seen walking from car to car in a parking lot, but driving up and down the rows in a large parking lot like a Walmart or a mall would be a lot easier. The only reason I think of this is that my friend once got in a car and started it before he realized that it wasn't his, but it was a Taurus that was the same color blue.

      To be honest though I have no clue about keyless entries except that some use radio signals and some are infrared. Then again, I don't have one so I really don't have to worry. I'm sure someone in the Slashdot audience knows more about this and can provide a little information.
      • I believe most are RF. Many are actually based on common chipsets -- Holtek makes a popular line of encoder/decoder chips.
      • I drive a taurus wagon, green, and walked up to a regular green taurus, unlocked the door and started to sit down when I noticed someone had "stolen" the console.... Then I realized it wasn't my car. I sheepishly relocked the door and got in my car, which was parked right next to it.

        spooky
        • I had a similar experience with a maroon Buick Regal I used to own. A few days after I bought it, I parked it at the mall. When I came out, I walked out, spotted what I thought was my car, and opened the door. I knew it wasn't mine when I smelled the cigarette smoke and noticed the child seat in the back. I locked it back up again and walked over one row and got in mine.
      • Keyless entry for cars uses an algorithm of somesort based on the remoteid or something. While it is probably possible to hack it (hell, broadcast a signal strong enough and it might unlock anyway) it is far easier to jimmy it. The key in use is generated each time the button is pressed so it isn't the same as the previous one. (You can't eavesdrop it for instance).

      • Most of the modern keyless entry systems on cars employ an anti-hacking feature where the system 'listens' for repeated broadcasts on it's frequency using different combinations of the PIN. If it detects this happening, it assumes someone is trying an attack, and shuts the remote system down for X minutes.
        This way, the system is 'safe' from being hacked into, but the legit owner, who has a real key as well, can still easily get into the vehicle, they might have to set their groceries down first is all.....
      • Along the same lines, I've wondered about the security of the keyless entry systems in cars.

        In 1986, I went out to my gray Ford Escort in a school parking lot, unlocked the trunk and opened it. Funny thing was, there was a light mounted in the trunk that wasn't there before. Upon further examination, I realized that this wasn't MY gray Ford Escort, I parked a few aisles over...

        I'm hoping that key technology has advanced since then ;)
    • We learned that when houses were put up for sale, most of the realtors set the dip switches in the garage door openers to a few easy combinations: on,off,on,off,on,etc...

      When I was a kid we had a better way... we removed the dip switch in the transmitter, and replaced it with a binary counter (available at Radio Shack). Then we would drive the counter with an oscillator, and like magic it could run through all the combinations in a few seconds.
    • Something similar occured when I was a little kid, a few months after we got our garage door opener.

      Our neighbor, seeing ours and talking to my dad about it, decided to go out and buy/install one.

      As to my dad: To his credit, he modified the resistors. (No DIPs, you had to clip resistors here) But he only clipped one.

      Neighbor did the same thing when he installed his - He clipped just one.

      Well, we hit that 1 in 7 chance of picking the same resistor. All of a sudden, our neighbor's garage door opened on him. So he walked to the garage, and hit his button.

      Ours went up, his closed. My dad walks out. Eventually, they're both standing there and figure out what happened.

      Both of em' clipped a second resistor and made sure not to clip the same one this time. :)
    • Funny you mention Realtors setting garage door combos on houses for sale -- in my neighborhood a house went for sale, and I went on the tour on Sunday afternoon. I saw a Linksys 802.11b box in the window, plugged in to a DSL connection and turned on. I tried accesing it from my house and it was open.
      There was basically no furniture in the house, so I assumed the occupants had just left it on while they moved out, but your post makes me wonder:

      Is there some secret society of Realtors who turn off WEP encryption on 802.11 boxes in unoccupied houses for sale, just like they do with garage door openers, so the realtors can all use their laptops when they are at the house?
    • As I understand it one of the first generation of car alarms could be adjusted bu turning a small dial (after removing the cover). Apparently walking down the road with your finger on the button and turning the dial with a small screwdriver was quite efficient

      --
      God loves you - whether you like it or not

    • I wouldn't be too worried about the kids these days. I haven't seen a kid outside in my neighborhood since Nintendo 64 came out years ago!

      I think they're too fat and clumsy to ride bicycles too.

      And if they do want to, their overprotective parents will make them wear 3 helmets, knee pads, wrist protectors, and 2 gallons of sunscreen. It's just not worth it anymore.

  • we planned to fly over or near high tech businesses, UCSD, Encinitas, Oceanside, Vista, Escondido, SDSU, Mission Valley, Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, Ocean Beach, Pt Loma, Chula Vista and then head to the airport to land. Tracy kept the airspeed low (about 120 knots) . . . we leveled off at 1500' . . .
    How fast do you suppose you could explain yourself to an F-16 pilot?
  • by MarkGriz ( 520778 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @01:21PM (#4157952)
    The FBI field office in San Diego has just issued the following warning:

    "If you see strange symbols floating in the sky above your corporate office, this might mean your wireless networks have been targeted by hackers or terrorists. Be sure to secure you wireless networks and contact the FBI immediately."

    • "If you see strange symbols floating in the sky above your corporate office, this might mean your wireless networks have been targeted by hackers or terrorists. Be sure to secure you wireless networks and contact the FBI immediately."

      Especially if the symbol is a bat [batman.com].

  • Engine quits... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shadow Wrought ( 586631 ) <shadow.wrought@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @01:23PM (#4157962) Homepage Journal
    As a pilot I can tell you that one of the things drilled into your head, early and often during training, is the question "if the engine quits here, where are you going to land?"

    At 1500' over a heavily populated area the pilot could still be in trouble with the FAA. It is technically legal, but not necessarily safe or prudent. Simply put, there is not a whole lot of options for landing at 1500', and even less over a densely populated area.

    I have seen a great many tech folks at the airport who are smoking holes waiting for a place to touch down. If you consistantly treat an aicraft as a car with the z-axis, it will eventually catch up to you.

    My $0.02
    • Airspace is controlled around major airports, in fact most of the Chicago area (north side) is under the O'hare TCA (tower controlled airspace). It is shaped like a funnel, centered on the airport.

      This I know, cause I live near one corner of it, and all the lowflying craft including ambulance copters come around my area. I can see a steady stream of planes coming in at night.

      I remember flying around downtown with a buddy in small plane, and we had to fly between the sky scrapers, cause the space above them was controlled. Really cool to do, but I beleive they have closed that airspace further after 9/11.

      • If your friend flew "between sky scrapers", he wasn't flying legally.

        Here in Canada, you have to stay at least 1000 feet above any obstacle less than 2000 feet horizontally from you (except while taking off or landing). This means that for all intents and purposes, you need to stay 1500 feet AGL (because of all the 50-story buildings around) when you're flying over a city.

        The laws in the USA are similar.
      • the airspace around chicago is largely owned by the chicago TRACON (terminal radar approach control), and not any tower.

        Also, though you have to fly low if you dont want to get (or cant get) a clearance into the class B airspace, you still have to maintain at least 1000 ft in any direction from buildings people (being a densly populated area), so the legality of your friends flying may be questionable.

        And i wouldnt be surprised if your airspace is a bit more restriced now, your mayor likes to beg the FAA to setup TFR's around all his city's buildings.
    • At 1500' over a heavily populated area the pilot could still be in trouble with the FAA. It is technically legal, but not necessarily safe or prudent. Simply put, there is not a whole lot of options for landing at 1500', and even less over a densely populated area.

      Densely populated area? Not San Diego. San Diego isn't like those big Eastern cities. It's a large city, but it's really spread out. There are relatively few tall buildings except in the downtown area, due to a three-story limit on (most) new buildings that was in effect for a while (I don't recall all of the details). Also, there are lots of big open spaces, such as canyons, parks, golf courses, and of course, the ocean to the West. It's also surrounded by lots of smaller towns, which is where the pilot spent most of their time flying (according to the map on their webpage).

      Landing in San Diego might still be hard, but it's probably not as bad as you think.
  • WarSkydiving?
  • Yep, somebody got an idea from that Australian story. No points for originality, I guess. "Hey, i can make new too!". Ho-hum. Please don't post the follow-up stories for New York, Dallas, Seattle, etc, etc...

    • Had you read the article, you would have seen that he states that they thought up the idea about a month before the Australians posted their results. I'm not saying they were the first or not, but before critisizing, you should read the article!
      I'm getting tired of the dozens of posts that obviously haven't read the article. People who do that simply show that they're missing the point of Slashdot alltogether.
      • I'm getting tired of the dozens of posts that obviously haven't read the article. People who do that simply show that they're missing the point of Slashdot alltogether.

        I'm tired of the dozens of posts telling others to read the articles. They show that the poster doesn't understand how /. really works....
    • Did ya ever think of READING the article?

      Cause if you did you'd know why you look like a shmuk for saying what you just did.
    • Ok, you're right. My bad for taking the slashdot blurb at face value. I should know better than to rely on it for an accurate assesment of the linked story.
      • The assesment was pretty accurate: Hundreds of WAPs, cool stats. Also, confusing it with the Austrailians didn't mean it was a copy cat of the Austrailians. As ever, read the story. The blurb is so you know what you are clicking on. ~geogeek
  • by One Louder ( 595430 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @01:34PM (#4158048)
    ...they flew over my apartment, so I'm probably one of those Apple access points. Oddly enough, because of the construction style of my unit (apparently Spanish Mission Faraday), I can't get a reliable signal from one end of my unit to the other. Glad I can be of service to local pilot community, though.
  • I've been searching for a few years for a way to get legit, reasonably priced, Internet connectivity in cockpit. There are many web sites where pilots can get nearly real time weather data. If we could connect in flight we could see radar images of storms ahead. Commercial weather avoidance [goodrichavionics.com] devices [insightavionics.com] cost tens of thousands of dollars. It's frustrating that every ground-based wireless connectivity solution just won't work at 3,000-10,000 feet. Besides many, such as cellular systems, are is illegal to use in flight.

    Commercial in flight internet links like ground-based AirCell [aircell.com] and satellite phones, cost more than $3000 for equipment with conenct rates of $2-5 per minute.

    The $3,000 PDA-based AnyWhere WX [controlvision.com] shows the potential. The promised inflight access to NEXRAD will fill the bill, but most avionics makers are planning systems that are still in tens of thousands of dollars range, when a laptop or PDA will do the job.

    Your average weekend pilot isn't going to sign up for a $200 month subcription for something only used for a few hours on nice weekends. (Flamers should douse the fire. Most pilots are mere mortals that made flying a priority, just like those who sink money in hot cars or the hottest gaming machines. Most aren't really rich.

    It would be a godsend if 802.11b connectivity could be made to work reliably in flight. Does anybody have any ideas on which wireless technology might fill the need?
    • Use your cell phone. If you read the FARS, part 91, you can use a cellphone. If you look at 91.21 it says:

      Sec. 91.21

      Portable electronic devices.

      (a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, no person may operate, nor may any operator or pilot in command of an aircraft allow the operation of, any portable electronic device on any of the following U.S.-registered civil aircraft:
      (1) Aircraft operated by a holder of an air carrier operating certificate or an operating certificate; or
      (2) Any other aircraft while it is operated under IFR.
      (b) Paragraph (a) of this section does not apply to--
      (1) Portable voice recorders;
      (2) Hearing aids;
      (3) Heart pacemakers;
      (4) Electric shavers; or
      (5) Any other portable electronic device that the operator of the aircraft has determined will not cause interference with the navigation or communication system of the aircraft on which it is to be used.
      (c) In the case of an aircraft operated by a holder of an air carrier operating certificate or an operating certificate, the determination required by paragraph (b)(5) of this section shall be made by that operator of the aircraft on which the particular device is to be used. In the case of other
      aircraft, the determination may be made by the pilot in command or other operator of the aircraft.

      So, if you aren't flying IFR, its automatically allowed. If you are flying IFR, then see 91.21(b)(5) which says that the operator may make a determination of whether or not intereference will exist... And 91.21(c) says that the opeartor in your case is the pilot in command.

      The cell phone rule only applies to Commercial Aircraft. Unless as the pilot in command you want to dissallow yourself from using a cell phone. So... Use a cell phone it is the cheapest way.
      • The cell phone rule only applies to Commercial Aircraft. Unless as the pilot in command you want to dissallow yourself from using a cell phone. So... Use a cell phone it is the cheapest way.
        I may try it. I have a Nokia 6100 that has a 9600bps modem built in.

        The problem, you know, is that in flight use of a cell phone is violation of FCC tariff. The word is that the FCC has never gone after a violator.

        I forgot to mention the Cheap Bastard [cheapbastardsoftware.net] solution which uses a Palm and OmniSky. The software is free. Here's a review. [fergworld.com] OmniSky is $19 amonth. Is OmniSky still around?
      • What this means is that you can use a radio that you have an FCC license for, or an unlicensed radio that is allowed in aircraft. (Example: Amateur radio gear and 802.11 equipment.)

        You STILL can't use your cellular phone, because the FCC does not allow cell phones to be used more than a certain (very low) altitude AGL, because the phone suddenly gets LOS to multiple towers, which will cause interference with those towers. (At best case, each tower will see your signal and consider you a user and work around you - Still, that means that instead of using up 1 users' worth of capacity on one tower (the way the system capacities are designed), you will use up 1 users' worth of capacity on numerous towers.

        Note in the article how much improvement there was in range when he was 1500 feet up - This is EXACTLY why cell phones are illegal in the air. Not because they interfere with flight systems, but because they interfere with cell phones on the ground.
      • You are correct that the FARs don't prohibit the use of cell phones in this circumstance. However, FCC regulations do. The cell networks are carefully engineered to work properly with cell phones on the ground or close to it, such as tall buildings. The system is not designed to deal with phones that can "see" scores of cell towers at the same time, as would be the case with a phone at altitude. I wish I knew the specific FCC reg, but I don't.
  • Terminology (Score:4, Informative)

    by Erbo ( 384 ) <obreerbo&gmail,com> on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @01:38PM (#4158080) Homepage Journal
    Someone was pushing the term "warstorming" for detecting wireless networks from the air (from the "war-" prefix + "barnstorming"). That sounds a little better than "warflying."

    Incidentally, the "war-" prefix either comes from "wardialing" or is an acronym for "Wireless Access Reconaissance," depending on how politically-correct you feel like being.

    • Re:Terminology (Score:2, Informative)

      by SandSpider ( 60727 )
      Incidentally, the "war-" prefix either comes from "wardialing" or is an acronym for "Wireless Access Reconaissance," depending on how politically-correct you feel like being.

      If you're going to point out that it's based on Wardialing, you might also mention that Wardiling itself comes from the movie WarGames [imdb.com], where the a young Mr. Broderick finds an unsecured telephone line to a military computer by setting his computer to dial a sequence of numbers.


      =Brian

      • " where the a young Mr. Broderick finds an unsecured telephone line to a military computer by setting his computer to dial a sequence of numbers."

        This idea in the movie was probably inspired by the BBS's in those days. Before the internet, you could use the phone to dial up to ....

        Hmm.. I need some feedback here: How obvious is it that I'm sucking up for Karma? :)
      • Right. I thought everyone knew that part already. :-)

        "Wardialing" was originally known as "tone scanning" or "demon dialing" until WarGames came out. In fact, you'll notice that the disk that David (Matthew Broderick) pulls out to start the process of looking for game company ProtoVision's computers is labeled "Modem Tone Scan." But this is getting back into prehistory now...

    • Errr... I already did some warstorming this year... but not what you think.

      Every year we drive out to the midwest and chase tornados ("storm chasing"). We use a laptop and GPS to get weather over the internet (often over slow, unreliable voice over analog cell phone links).

      This year I put in netstumbler while we were driving around. Logged lots of AP's. Unfortunately, the GPS was tied to Delorme Maps, so netstumbler didn't get to use it (insert Linux plug vs Windows here... then find me good maps on Linux :-).

      We did hit one AP on I-40 about the New Mexico/Texas line - out in the middle of friggin nowhere!

      Anyway, I claim that WE were warstorming!
      • Sounds more like just a variation of wardriving to me. How about the term "warchasing" ("war-" + "storm chasing")?
    • How about "warbuzzing"? Or would that just be applicable to using model planes for this purpose? (I've already posted on that topic above.)
  • ...what so cool in this waring? If they are really looking for networks that want to be found, would not it be easier to just create a service using which you can broadcast your location, description, coverage and other details. I quess I am missing something, but I don't see anything fancy in driving, flying, walking or swimming around in search of some spectrum. Is it just because everyone is still astonished about the fact that you can transfer bytes over air too ?
  • by noahbagels ( 177540 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @01:54PM (#4158190)
    First - I think these guys did an excellent job - and made a nice contribution by publishing their article w/pictures hosted etc...

    My issue - is that the security problems are IMHO vastly overstated. I've worked at two companies with WAPs - and those were outside of our corporate/internal firewall.

    If someone wanted to work over the WAPs, they would use them like a home DSL line, and simply VPN in. No security problem there.

    As for private home users, and even some small businesses (as both my parents run offices with non-secured WAPs) - the security risk is only as great as the value of their data, divided by the cost to get to it. If any of you want to (i) find, and (ii) hack my father's office's legacy Dos-based auto/office management software, than by all means - we've been in need of a windows compatable update!!! (hehe).

    But seriously - what use would you have for your neighbor's email or home document/resume, etc... and would you really go thru the trouble of hacking a next-door Pentium running WinXP? I think it's far more likely to be the sploits' of a script/trojan than an individual.

    All good companies will have seperate VLANs (or equivalent) running different things - i.e. the WAP should be firewall'd like the rest of the net etc...

    Not to mention - anyone can be hacked over the internet, even with firewalls, but to use WAPs, you have to be within the range - typically 1/4km. Do you have the time/car/laptop/battery life to drive to your 'enemy' or soccer-mom's house and hack the encryptions? (yes I can spell - watch some more southpark).

    BR
    nuff said.
    • One advantage of unsecured wireless networks is the easy way to inject malicious code or to hack and have it traced to someone else's network. Want to introduce a new nasty virus, hop on down to your neighbor's wireless network and eventually the feds will be knocking on their door instead of yours... I don't think the "average" home user realizes this particular risk. Why bother with their lame bank accounts when you can launch a DDOS safely?
    • I think there's two problems with unsecured wireless networks. The first is access to data. In business settings often the WAP isn't firewalled off and secured, so it provides an access point into the business's LAN that doesn't require physical access to their wiring. The risks there are obvious. In the home environment lack of a firewall's a given, but there's more risk than would be apparent. If someone searched your computer and you used Quicken, how many account numbers could they find? This is frightening when you consider that banks, when processing electronic checks, don't actually validate much. If an electronic check comes in with a valid account number, they pay it and leave it up to the account holder to screech if it's not kosher.

      The second is access to bandwidth. Even if someone can't or doesn't get access to your computers, they can probably use your network connection to reach the rest of the Internet. What they do will then be traceable back to your network, with no obvious indication that the attached machine wasn't legitimate and one of yours. The result of that is that you could be held responsible for that P2P server hosting pirated content, or that huge chunk of child pornography that got downloaded to something attached to your network. You can try to prove it wasn't one of your machines, but that's going to be a tough job and isn't guaranteed to succeed.

  • Did the pilot mark the areas with skywriting?
  • Nothing illegal about this or wardriving. However, if you take it to step 2, which is wep cracking or attempting to join the network, then you are in the same boat as walking into an office and plugging in and nosing around. Netstumbler Forums [netstumbler.com] has more info on this, but as you will read most of the people there do this strictly for the fun of it and do not promote accessing other people's networks.
  • There's one little diamond there in a residential area that's almost certainly my WAP. I think I may have even noticed the plane go by, as we don't get that many low-flying civil aircraft in this area due to its proximity to the military and commercial air traffic. How interesting. 'Scuze me while I go pull the power cord out of the Linksys.
  • That could be an alternative name to "warflying". I can see where "warstorming" comes from (think "barnstorming").

    However, why are we using full-size planes for this? A serious model plane could do the job as well, if done right. Tightly strap in an IPaq and a small GPS, padded, with an external antenna on the Orinoco card. Add MiniStumbler, some gas, and go.

    Even better, with some custom software on the IPaq, and assuming you stay in range of your AP, there may be a chance of real-time telemetry. Add a camera card and spy on your neighbours... no, now I'm just getting silly!

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