What Is Wardriving?

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Hackers and malicious actors are always coming up with new ways to infiltrate systems and gain access to sensitive data. Their goal is often to commit identity theft or access funds. These hacks happen more frequently on Wi-Fi networks that are public or unsecured since they are more at risk of actions like decryption or data access. 

Wardriving is a practice hackers use to identify vulnerable wireless networks by driving or moving around an area and uncovering networks that are unsecured. They then try to access the network to get sensitive information for fraudulent purposes or conduct illegal activities using someone else’s Wi-Fi.

There are a few methods wardrivers use to identify and access unsecured Wi-Fi networks, including using various types of hardware, smartphone apps, and advanced software designed specifically for wardriving. Sometimes GPS devices or built-in antennas can detect Wi-Fi signals and are used for this purpose.

This guide will walk through the primary purposes of wardriving. It will also cover seven simple ways you can prevent this from happening to your wireless network.

The Purpose of Wardriving

wardriving hacker trying to get information working on a laptop in their car

We will cover the key reasons wardriving exists before diving into how to prevent it from happening. Hackers most often pursue this tactic to accomplish the following goals:

To Obtain Personal Information

The most common reason for wardriving is so a hacker can obtain sensitive information, such as personal details like a Social Security number or financial data like bank account numbers. They then use this information for fraudulent and malicious purposes.

To Conduct Criminal Activities via the Network

There are lots of illegal activities that hackers take part in online, including phishing scams, intellectual property infringement, and online harassment. Hackers can get into your network and conduct these activities through it in an attempt to shift all the liability to you, who owns the network. This can put you in a tricky legal situation.

To Reveal Security Issues 

Not all wardriving is malicious. One reason that an “ethical” hacker may start wardriving is to identify security flaws in a network to better understand them and enhance wireless security. Sometimes the best way to understand how hackers operate is to test their tactics. Doing so can lead to stronger security approaches.

Keep in mind that wardriving is usually conducted for malicious activities, and this is the type you should be most concerned about. You never want your sensitive information to be at risk, which could make you vulnerable to identity theft and much more.

7 Ways to Protect Against Wardriving

Person learning how to prevent wardriving on his phone

Now you know the basics of wardriving and why it needs to be avoided. Hackers are always thinking of new ways to infiltrate systems, so make sure you keep these considerations in mind when you have home Wi-Fi.

How do you go about preventing wardriving? There are simple steps you can take to further protect your information and your network. Here are a few important ways to protect against this malicious practice:

1. Use a Separate Guest Network

One reason you may not want to completely secure your Wi-Fi network is that other people may use it, such as visitors. Try creating a separate guest network in your home that they can use while securing a private network that contains your personal information.

2. Use Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication is when there are two or more steps required to log into a system. You may combine a password requirement with a code sent to your mobile phone that you have to enter to proceed. This provides an added layer of security between hackers and your information.

3. Enable Encryption

Make sure you implement network security protocols like WPA2 or WPA3. These secure wireless networks by providing unique encryption keys for each user that tries to use the Wi-Fi.

4. Implement a Firewall

A firewall can protect your wireless network from unauthorized users. This security layer further protects the privacy of your Wi-Fi and should be implemented on each home network.

5. Change Your Defaults

Alter the default admin username and password that came with your router. Default passwords are more likely to be found online by hackers, so create something unique and hard to decode. Another good idea is to change the factory default Service Set Identifier (SSID) for your network (i.e., your network name) to something that outsiders will be unlikely to guess.

6. Disable SSID Broadcast

Your SSID is broadcast by your network by default so that devices can find it and connect to it. This may not be necessary for your home network but disabling this function will decrease your chances of being found by a malicious actor. It is still possible that advanced software could find the network, but it will be more difficult.

7. Turn Off Your Router

Another tactic is to turn off your router when you’re not using the internet. Attackers won’t be able to find it when it’s turned off.

Consider using all of these techniques to work in conjunction to fully protect your wireless network. You never want your sensitive files and data to be discoverable to hackers, nor do you want them using your Wi-Fi to perform malicious or illegal activities.

Secure Your Data with Shred Cube

Your data may be at risk even with the best intentions and practices. One way to protect your information is to permanently delete it from your devices. Making files unrecoverable means no attackers will ever be able to find them.

Shred Cube helps you do exactly that. Using our powerful permanent file erasure device, you can erase and organize your computer files and securely destroy data. You may need to do this before selling or disposing of your computer or just getting rid of information you no longer need to keep. Never let important personal or business data get into the wrong hands.

Contact Shred Cube for more information about how digital file shredding can protect your information.

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