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Warchalking

Warchalking

(also war chalking)

Warchalking definition

Warchalking is the drawing of chalk symbols in public places to indicate free Wi-Fi hotspots. Wi-Fi enthusiasts practice warchalking in rural and urban areas and usually draw warchalking symbols on objects near the Wi-Fi hotspot, like sidewalks, walls, or lamp posts. However, the markings may advertise unintentionally open Wi-Fi networks, posing security threats to those who may have accidentally left their network unsecured.

How warchalking works

  1. A Wi-Fi enthusiast travels around looking for a Wi-Fi network node.
  2. They find an access point location and determine whether it can be accessed or not.
  3. They draw a symbol on a nearby object to relay information about the access point (e.g., whether it’s open or closed or what type of password it uses).

Four basic warchalking elements

  • Two back-to-back semicircles: This symbol indicates the presence of an open network node or access point.
  • Closed circle: This symbol refers to a closed network node.
  • A “W” inside a circle: This mark means the network node uses a Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) password.
  • Two small circles connected to a big circle with the letter “M” inside: This symbol indicates that the access point uses a mesh connection.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security