What is war walking in cyber security and why should you care?


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War walking is the practice of moving through a specific area to secretly identify wireless network vulnerabilities. It is a critical part of cyber security threat prevention and mitigation. I’ve realized that the threat of cyber attacks is not limited to big organizations, governments, or defense agencies. In fact, any small business, hospital, and even individuals can fall victim to malicious attacks. That’s why it’s essential to understand the concept of war walking and how it can help you secure your wireless network. In this article, I’ll delve into what war walking is, how it works, the tools you can use to detect it, and why you should care about it. Let’s dive in.

What is war walking in cyber security?

War walking in cyber security refers to the practice of walking around an area with the intention of finding Wi-Fi networks that are vulnerable to attack, typically by using a smartphone or laptop. This practice is similar to wardriving, but rather than being in a moving vehicle, war walkers are on foot. The goal of war walking is to identify open or poorly secured Wi-Fi networks that can be easily exploited by cyber criminals, providing them with access to sensitive information or systems.

Here are some key points to keep in mind when it comes to war walking in cyber security:

  • War walking is a method that cyber criminals use to identify vulnerable Wi-Fi networks that can be easily exploited.
  • The practice involves walking around an area with a smartphone or laptop to detect open or poorly secured networks.
  • The software used for war walking is available for free on the internet.
  • Once a vulnerable network is identified, cyber criminals can use a variety of tools and techniques to gain access to sensitive data or systems.
  • Protecting against war walking requires taking steps to secure your Wi-Fi network, such as using strong passwords, enabling encryption, and disabling remote management.
  • It’s important to remember that cyber criminals are always looking for new and innovative ways to gain access to sensitive data and systems. By staying informed about the latest threats and taking steps to secure your networks, you can help protect your organization from the risks posed by war walking and other cyber attacks.

    ???? Pro Tips:

    1. Understand the basics of war walking in cyber security by recognizing that it is the act of roaming around with a wireless device to identify and map out wireless networks.
    2. Always check the legitimate purpose of war walking before engaging in such activity as there are strict laws governing it, and it often requires prior consent from the owner of the network.
    3. Keep in mind that war walking can be used offensively by hackers to gain unauthorized access to networks, so it is crucial to ensure that your network is secure by employing WPA2 encryption and changing your default passwords.
    4. Regularly perform vulnerability scans on your wireless network to identify any potential vulnerabilities that may be exploited by war walkers.
    5. Educate your employees on the potential threats of war walking and provide guidelines on how to identify and report any suspicious activity in your network to prevent unauthorized access.

    Understanding WarWalking: Definition and Context

    WarWalking is a cyber security term that refers to the technique of searching for publicly accessible Wi-Fi networks while moving around on foot or in a vehicle. The term is derived from “WarGames,” a 1983 movie in which a young hacker accidentally gains access to a government supercomputer and nearly triggers a nuclear war. In the film, the protagonist uses a portable computer to search for unsecured computer systems while riding his bicycle through his neighborhood. While the practice of WarWalking has evolved since the film’s release, its basic principle remains the same: locating Wi-Fi networks that are accessible to the public and identifying any security vulnerabilities that might exist.

    Historical Roots: WarGames and the Origins of WarWalking

    The term “WarWalking” was first used in the early 2000s. However, the practice of searching for wireless networks dates back to the 1990s when hackers used a process called “WarDialing” to search for modems using a phone line. The term “WarWalking” specifically comes from the character David Lightman’s use of a portable computer to search for open computer systems while riding his bike in “WarGames.”

    Tools and Techniques: The Software and Equipment Used in WarWalking

    WarWalking can be done with a smartphone, tablet, or laptop equipped with wireless network capabilities and specialized software. Popular WarWalking software includes NetStumbler, Kismet, and Vistumbler. These programs scan for Wi-Fi networks, allowing the user to identify the access points, and whether the network is secured or not. This information can then be used to exploit security vulnerabilities on the network.

    Some additional tools used in WarWalking include:

    GPS-enabled mobile devices: to track and map the location of discovered Wi-Fi networks.
    External Wi-Fi antennas: used to increase the range of Wi-Fi detection.
    Wireless repeaters: used to amplify a detected Wi-Fi signal to improve its reach.

    Risks and Vulnerabilities: Why WarWalking is a Concern for Cyber Security

    WarWalking can pose significant risks to the security of Wi-Fi networks. The information obtained through WarWalking can be used to exploit vulnerabilities in a Wi-Fi network, potentially allowing an attacker to gain access to sensitive data, such as personal information or financial data.

    Public Wi-Fi networks, in particular, are vulnerable to WarWalking attacks. Many public Wi-Fi networks are unsecured or use weak passwords that can be easily cracked. Once a hacker gains access to a public Wi-Fi network, they can potentially access any connected device that is also connected to the network, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

    Securing Wi-Fi Networks: Best Practices to Protect Against WarWalking

    There are several best practices that businesses and individuals can follow to protect their Wi-Fi networks against WarWalking attacks:

    Use strong passwords: Use complex passwords with a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Periodically changing the password is also recommended.
    Enable encryption: Enable WPA2 encryption for secure wireless communication.
    Disable SSID broadcasting: Disabling SSID broadcasting ensures that the Wi-Fi network is not visible to the public.
    Monitor network activity: Continuous monitoring can help detect suspicious network activity, which can then be investigated further.
    Install security software: Install antivirus and anti-malware software to protect against potential software vulnerabilities.

    Legal and Ethical Considerations Surrounding WarWalking

    The legality of WarWalking depends on the intent of the activity. If the activity is being done for research and educational purposes, it may be legal. However, if the activity is being done with malicious intent – to exploit network vulnerabilities – it is illegal.

    There are also ethical considerations to take into account. Accessing a Wi-Fi network without permission is considered unethical and can lead to legal repercussions. It’s important to respect the property and privacy of others, even when it comes to digital information.

    Real-World Examples: Notable WarWalking Incidents and Their Implications

    In 2005, a teenage boy from Michigan was arrested and charged with unauthorized access to computer systems after WarWalking through his neighborhood searching for unsecured Wi-Fi networks. He was ultimately sentenced to probation, community service, and computer restrictions.

    In 2011, a WarWalking group in Germany identified and mapped over 1.2 million wireless access points, identifying areas that were vulnerable to hackers. This project brought attention to the security risks associated with public Wi-Fi networks and helped to increase public awareness of the issue.

    In conclusion, WarWalking is a cyber security threat that can be easily carried out with readily available tools and software. Businesses and individuals must take active measures to secure their Wi-Fi networks to protect against vulnerabilities that WarWalkers may exploit. Legal and ethical considerations should also be taken into account when considering whether or not to engage in WarWalking activities.