What wardriving is and why you should care

2 years ago

Wardriving maps out vulnerable Wi-Fi networks and puts you at risk

According to a study by Xfinity, 95% of consumers surveyed underestimate the number of cyberattacks they face monthly. Of these consumers, over 4 in 5 are not confident they would know if one of their non-screen devices were hacked. And almost half of Americans surveyed believe that open Wi-Fi is safe and doesn’t require additional precautions. 

Experts believe otherwise, largely because of wardriving. This is the act of searching for open and vulnerable wireless networks from within a moving vehicle and subsequently mapping these wireless access points.

Once these networks are located, wardrivers will frequently submit the information to third-party websites to build digital maps of unsecured networks.

“Often, there are a few reasons why people will wardrive,” says Daniel Markuson, a digital privacy expert at NordVPN. “The first is to steal banking information. These unprotected networks can allow hackers access to any device connected to the network. This means wardrivers can engage in malicious activities such as installing malware on your devices or even obtaining sensitive data.”

Another commonly practiced wardriving tactic is using these vulnerable networks for criminal activity, which causes the owner of the network to be liable. The last reason is it’s done to locate the security flaws of a network. According to Daniel Markuson from NordVPN, “Ethical hackers will use wardriving to find vulnerabilities and improve overall network security.”

In a legal sense, wardriving isn’t illegal, but there are elements to the practice which are blurred. Searching for and submitting obtained information on networks is legal, as this is strictly data collection.

“The line becomes clearer, legally speaking, at the point of interaction with the network,” says Daniel Markuson. “These interactions represent accessing a private network, and this extends into piggybacking, which is accessing someone’s Wi-Fi network without their permission or knowledge.” 

Typically, wardrivers engage in this sort of hacking with bad intentions. This is why it’s a good idea to ensure that you protect your network from these bad actors. Daniel Markuson shares a few steps you can take: 

Administrative credentials

Change the default admin username and login credentials on your router and use multi-factor authentication if possible.

Encrypt your network and make your password complex

When setting up your network, choose the highest network security protocol when opting for WEP, WPA, and WPA2 and make sure your network is not left open. Also, create a password that is complex enough and impossible to guess for a wardriver or anyone else. 

Turn off your router when you’re not home

Turning off your router when it’s not being used or when you leave your house is also a good step to take in protecting your network. 

Use a firewall

If you want to secure your systems, using a firewall will block unapproved communication and access attempts from unauthorized devices. 

Update your devices

Last but not least, make sure you always keep your systems updated both on your hardware and software to ensure you have the current patches and security. 


NordVPN is the world’s most advanced VPN service provider used by over 14 million internet users worldwide. NordVPN provides double VPN encryption, malware blocking, and Onion Over VPN. The product is very user-friendly, offers one of the best prices on the market, has over 5,000 servers in 60 countries worldwide, and is P2P-friendly. One of the key features of NordVPN is the zero-log policy. For more information: nordvpn.com.

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