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Wardriving: Definition and Tips to Help You Protect Your Network

As technology advances and we become more reliant on the internet, hackers are getting more advanced, leaving our devices and home WiFi networks vulnerable. You may be aware that you shouldn’t just jump on any free public WiFi network because of security vulnerabilities. But did you know your home network can be at risk too? Clario’s VPN can encrypt your data and protect your devices and data, whether you are home or away.

Table of contents

What is wardriving?

Let’s start with a basic definition of wardriving. It is a cyber-attack where hackers look for insecure wireless networks while driving around in a vehicle. The hackers will map these wireless access points and use them to carry out malicious acts.  

How does wardriving work?

Wardriving requires a few different items to work. These include:  

  • A mobile device like a laptop, smartphone, or tablet
  • Wardriving software like KisMAC, Cain & Able, Aircrack, iStumbler, and WiFiphisher
  • Wireless network card and wardriving antenna
  • GPS from a smartphone or standalone device.

First, the hacker needs specific hardware, like a smartphone or laptop, to hold the wardriving software and carry out the attack. Often, the mobile device already has a built-in GPS and antenna, so no additional hardware is needed.


The wardriving software helps hackers to decipher WiFi passwords and decrypt networks. This gives them access to the network.


The GPS is necessary to help pinpoint the locations of vulnerable networks.


Hackers will use these pieces to identify vulnerable networks, upload their data to the wardriving software, and create a map of networks in their area.


For attacks on more extensive networks or entities, the hacker will need software and hardware with a little more power to it — like a high-powered computer designed for the sole purpose of the attack.


If a hacker gains access to your network, they can access devices on your network and upload malware or even commit online fraud like identity theft by finding your private data.  

Is wardriving illegal?

The short answer is no; wardriving is not illegal. But it’s more complicated than that.


No laws prohibit people from creating computer-generated maps of WiFi networks and collecting data from them. But, if someone uses wardriving to exploit insecure networks and access private data, they could face criminal charges. It all depends on how someone uses it.


For example, Google’s Street View technically uses wardriving to map out homes and business locations. Street View provides users with the Google Map data they need to go from place to place.


Other entities use wardriving to accomplish similar goals. So it’s not all bad.

How to prevent wardriving attacks

If you want to keep your home network safe from wardriving attacks, there are a few actionable steps you can take to ensure your security.  

1. Turn off your WiFi network when not in use  

Your WiFi network is the key to accessing your personal devices and private data. When you are away from home, or even at night when you sleep, turn off your WiFi router to help prevent these attacks.  

2. Change your router’s default factory password  

WiFi routers generally come with defacto security settings from the manufacturer. Wardriving hackers often know these passwords for specific makes and models of routers and modems, so it’s always a good idea to change your password to something more unique.  

How to update your router’s password:  

  1. Get the device model number from your modem/router
  2. Find the default IP address
  3. Take note of the default username and password
  4. Change the password:
    • Open a web browser, type in your router’s IP address, and hit Enter
    • Sign in with your router’s default username and password
    • Find the right page for the brand of your router and follow the prompts to change the password.

3. Use multi-factor authentication

Enabling multi-factor authentication on your devices and personal accounts can help keep them secure from those who gain access to your WiFi network.


Multi-factor authentication generally requires at least two steps to log into any given device or account, like sending a code to your phone and logging in with a password.  

4. Use encryption  

Make sure you have a router that uses encryption. When choosing your router, look for things like WPA2 (WiFi Protected Access 2) or WPA3. And only allow access to your router with a password. Every extra layer of cyber security you add will help prevent wardriving attacks.


You can also use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to provide additional encryption on your devices and network. A VPN will make it more difficult for hackers to gain access to your network and private data.  


Try Clario’s VPN to protect your devices today:

  1. Install Clario’s app for Mac, iOS, or Android
  2. Get a subscription and set up an account
  3. Go to your Clario app dashboard
  4. Under Quick VPN Actions, toggle the Browsing protection to On
  5. Select Turn On
  6. You can change the server location as shown in the video instruction below.

5. Install a firewall

Firewalls provide an extra layer of security around your network. A firewall will monitor access to your network and only allow approved sources in, making it more difficult for a wardriving attack to take place. These are particularly common and effective among large businesses.  

6. Disable SSID broadcast

The SSID (Service Set Identifier) for your network broadcasts out a signal to help devices find and connect to the network. You can disable this function to make it more difficult for hackers to find your network. It won’t be impossible for more advanced software, but it’s definitely more challenging.  

7. Keep your devices up-to-date

Devices like your phone, computer, and tablet have regular software updates. These updates often include patches that help keep them more secure.


Make sure you run regular updates to your device to give them the best protection against security vulnerabilities on your wireless network.  


Cyber security is becoming increasingly important in this age of the internet. When we rely on the internet for everything, from working to shopping to banking to connecting with loved ones, it’s important to ensure that your wireless network is protected.


Take the steps we’ve covered into consideration as you fortify your network.  

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