When we think of different types of cyber attacks, we rarely think of individuals doing anything other than sitting behind a computer and using the digital universe to undertake all parts of their evil acts. Wardriving, however, actually involves a criminal in a car, in your neighborhood. These criminals still never have any actual contact with their victims, but they do get much closer, physically, than in other cases of hacking.
In wardriving, as the name would suggest, a cybercriminal will travel throughout communities with a computer, GPS system, and wireless network card scanning the area for wireless networks, and information about the vulnerability of those networks. Most of us have at least noticed the “SSID” on our home network, and that is what the wardrivers are scanning for, as it tells the criminal where the access points to that network are, ultimately allowing him or her to determine the best places in a neighborhood to access personal information and monetary transactions someone makes from the networks the wardrivers deem as vulnerable.
Upon return, the wardriver will connect to the networks they found to be vulnerable (ways to protect against this in a few paragraphs!) and try to further infiltrate by gaining access to all the devices on that network such as cell phones (and their banking apps) and tablets that may have a lot more information on them than a home computer.
The good news is, as easy as it sounds to do, it’s just as easy to protect against it, and even decent protection will keep your network off of the “vulnerable target” lists mentioned above. Here are some tips on protecting your home network from wardrivers.
If a wardriver sees a network is encrypted, they will very quickly be moving on the next house. Most routers these days allow for WPA or WPA2 encryption, even the entry-level ones. Most are also pre-encrypted, but checking is pretty easy. Logon to the wireless router management page on your computer and ensure that WPA or WPA2 is enacted.
Even if you have encryption, if your network is not password protected it can still pop up as “vulnerable” on a wadriver’s scan, as said wardriver can just access the network and turn off the encryption and change network security keys, just as you turned on the ecryption in the last section. In order to ensure no one else can control your router, it is important to change the administrative passwords frequently. If not frequently, at least change it from the factory default, as wardrivers know those passwords and will try them if your neighborhood is pretty digitally secure, as a whole.
Most computers will have security software installed when purchased, but most of this software needs to be upgraded and paid for after a given time period. Adding a firewall to your network protection is an inexpensive way to be able to get alerts anytime anyone is trying to access your network, which can protect you from a wide array of cyber attacks, not just wardrivers (though it does work great for wardriver prevention).
Small steps like changing your phone and computer passwords frequently, limiting the amount of data you store on your devices, and simply shutting down your router when you’re out of town for a while can also help you stay way above that vulnerability line that wardrivers search for when they take strolls or drives down your street.
Cybercriminals, in all their filth, are very forward-thinking people, always looking for easier or new ways to accomplish their goals of stealing your information and financial records. Upgrading and revisiting these methods to protect against cybercrime is paramount in the ever changing world of cybercrime.
by Ryan Ayers