This post has been a long time coming. I started it back in spring of 2011, then got sidetracked. Here’s what I wrote them:
A combination of inspiration from Noah, being back in school, taking a “CyberSecurity” class, and getting a Netbook for school led me to try something different with my commute: Warbiking! Noah’s explanation of Warbiking (or WarCycling, as he calls it) is better than what I would come up with on my own, so I’m going to steal it. In this post, he says:
Wardriving: The act of driving around with scanning equipment, searching for wireless networks (usually of the 802.11 variety). The “War” part of the name comes from the age-old practice of setting up a computer to aggressively dial thousands of phone numbers in a row, looking for other computers or fax machines, or “War Dialing”. In and of itself, wardriving is not a malevolent practice. Wardriving, done passively, is totally legal in the US.
WarCycling, then, is the same tactic applied while riding a bicycle.
Warbiking is something I’ve been doing on and off since I wrote that. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s astounding how many networks you find. I know intuitively that there are thousands of wireless networks all around me, but it’s something else to see them all enumerated on a map.
I post the networks I find on wigle.net, a community site with a database that includes data about millions of wireless access points around the world.
This badge shows stats about what networks I’ve found. I added it to the sidebar of this blog:
I started out using my Netbook running Linux, hooked to my Garmin eTrex Venture GPS. This works quite well and collects a lot of information about the networks. I now have an Android phone, so now I can use the Wigle WiFi app on my phone for warbiking/walking/etc. The Netbook is more accurate, collects more data, and probably sees more networks (though I haven’t done a direct comparison to verify this). But my phone is always with me, making it easy to start checking out wireless networks any time I want, without carrying the (relatively) bulky netbook.
Here you can see the Netbook/GPS on the left, and the Android phone on the right.
More recently, I’ve experimented with setting cameras up to take a photo every few seconds. I intend to try to correlate the photos with the network data, but I haven’t had a chance to do so yet.
One thing that’s very interesting is to load the data in Google Earth. I can then explore the networks within the Google Earth interface. Kismet even shows what clients were connected to the networks at the time I rode by.