Skip to content Skip to navigation Skip to footer

What Is Wardriving?

Wardriving Meaning

Wardriving is a hacking method and has its origins in the movie WarGames, which starred actor Matthew Broderick. In the movie, Broderick’s character dials every phone number in his local area to discover all existing computers. That evolved into a process of mapping access points, which involves attackers finding vulnerable or unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

Wardriving was termed by computer security consultant Peter Shipley, who developed software that can interact with portable Global Positioning Systems (GPS).

How Wardriving Works

Wardriving involves attackers searching for wireless networks with vulnerabilities while moving around an area in a moving vehicle. They use hardware and software to discover unsecured Wi-Fi networks then gain unauthorized access to the network by cracking passwords or decrypting the router. The attacker then records vulnerable network locations on digital maps, known as access point mapping, and may share that information with third-party applications and websites. 

This wardriving definition has several variations, depending on the mode of transport the hacker uses: warbiking, warcycling, warrailing, warjogging, and warwalking. 

Components of wardriving include: 

Wardriving Software

Wardriving software helps an attacker work out network passwords and decrypt Wi-Fi routers. Attackers can use packet sniffers, traffic analyzers, signal strength testers, and software to crack or attack networks. The software runs on a mobile or laptop device with a Wi-Fi interface, and data may be shared on publicly accessible platforms and maps like WiGLE.

Wardriving Antenna

Antennas are crucial to attackers carrying out a wardriving attack. The attacker mounts an antenna to their vehicle then moves around an area to identify vulnerable networks. Wi-Fi networks operate in the 2.4 GHz radio frequency, which can be detected from miles away by the suitable antenna. Attackers have a wide range of antennas to choose from, such as omnidirectional antennas that pick up signals from all directions.

Bluetooth Wardriving

Bluetooth operates on the 2.4 GHz radio frequency, which means it can be used for wardriving purposes. Attackers can use Bluetooth to capture data being broadcast by insecure, vulnerable devices. Bluetooth is likely to become a growing focus of wardriving attacks due to the growth of automation.

Raspberry Pi Wardriving

Attackers can use generic hardware like Raspberry Pi to connect to a GPS device and scour an area for vulnerable Wi-Fi networks.

What Is a Wardriving Attack?

The wardriving process itself is not dangerous, but if hackers gain unauthorized access to a Wi-Fi network, they could access any computer, laptop, or mobile device connected to it. This can give them the foundation to install malware on the user’s network and steal information from devices connected to the network, such as bank or credit card data and private documents and files. 

The attacker may also carry out illegal activity using the network, such as broader identity theft attacks, that could lead to financial loss or result in the network owner being charged with criminal acts.

Is Wardriving Illegal?

There are no laws that specifically say wardriving is illegal. There is no law against gathering or collecting data from wireless networks or creating computer-generated maps. However, attackers can use the process to exploit insecure networks, which creates a gray area around protecting personal privacy. Wardriving can be dangerous and illegal when it involves accessing private and corporate networks.

A good example of the gray area around wardriving is Google’s Street View, which involves cars recording footage for interactive, online panoramas. Street View was used for wardriving by Google, which used equipment to locate local-area networks (LANs), wireless hotspots, and home Wi-Fi networks.

How To Prevent Wardriving

There are network security practices that can help users avoid the risks associated with wardriving. 

  1. Turn off the Wi-Fi network when not in use: Turning off a Wi-Fi router when nobody is home or when it is not being used will prevent the network from being accessed by hackers.
  2. Change the router’s default factory password: Wi-Fi router manufacturers typically assign a standard username and password, which helps users quickly set up and configure the device. These default credentials may be known to hackers, so it is vital to change the login to a unique name and password combination.
  3. Use encryption: Wi-Fi routers can be set only to allow access when the correct password is entered. This uses encryption standards like Wi-Fi Protected Access
  4. Install a firewall: Firewalls are crucial to protecting networks because they monitor access requests and block any activity from unapproved sources. Users should use firewalls to add an extra layer of security to their standard Wi-Fi setup.

How Fortinet Can Help

Fortinet enables organizations to protect network traffic with its FortiGate next-generation firewalls (NGFWs). These firewall solutions safeguard organizations from internal and external threats with advanced content inspection capabilities that identify and block cyberattacks and malware. Unlike traditional firewalls, the Fortinet NGFWs offer future updates that evolve in-line with the threat landscape, shielding organizations from the latest attack methods and threat vectors.

Fortinet also protects LAN users with secure wireless access points (WAPs). These devices can be added to any Wi-Fi network to provide an extra layer of security on top of the physical hardware. Fortinet wireless LAN technology uses security-driven networking to protect the enterprise edge. Additionally, it leverages the Fortinet Security Fabric to protect critical corporate assets and data.

Users of the Fortinet suite of secure WAP and Wi-Fi-enabled solutions should consult the latest Fortinet PSIRT Advisory for information on the devices affected by recent attacks and how to protect their networks.


What is wardriving?

Wardriving is a form of cyberattack that involves malicious actors using hardware and software to search for insecure wireless networks.

How does wardriving work?

With wardriving, attackers use an antenna to scour for insecure wireless networks. Using hardware and software, they attempt to gain unauthorized access to a Wi-Fi router, steal data, or carry out illegal activity on devices connected to the network.

What is a wardriving attack?

A wardriving attack involves hackers gaining unauthorized access to wireless networks. Hackers can then install malware or steal data from devices connected to the network.

How do you prevent wardriving?

Network users can prevent wardriving by securing their networks with encryption, installing a firewall, setting unique passwords, and turning Wi-Fi routers off when they are not being used.