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War driving

War driving definition

War driving refers to the act of searching the neighborhoods for Wi-Fi wireless networks, often driving around in a vehicle equipped with a Wi-Fi-enabled device, and mapping these networks.

In war driving, people usually aim for information such as network names (SSIDs), signal strength, encryption types as well as GPS coordinates to create a map or a database of these discovered networks.

See also: wireless network security

History of war driving

Around 1998, the advent of Wi-Fi and 802.11 standards sparked interest in wireless networking. The term “war driving” was coined by Peter Shipley in 1999 at a hacking conference DEF CON. Interest in war driving grew as technology enthusiasts, security researchers, and hackers started discussing it regularly in articles and forums online.

NetStumber, the first war driving tool for Windows, was released in 2001 by Joshua Wright. It allowed users to scan for Wi-Fi networks, collect network details, and display them in a user-friendly interface. After a technology journalist and author Kevin Poulsen published his article titled “WarDriving: Pringles Can Antenna“, war driving saw another popularity spike.

Smartphone technology gave another boost to this activity as it allowed carrying everything required for war driving in one’s pocket. It’s still an area where cybersecurity researchers draw attention, raising awareness about the importance of secure Wi-Fi configurations.