Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Warwalking Experiment

A couple of years ago I got curious about Wardriving but I never took time to go around sniffing for wireless networks on my own. Today I finally prepared setup which I used for a little walk in my neighborhood. This is what I packed in my backpack:

In order to use the scanner with the MacBook in the backpack, I used a little utility called InsomniaX which disables sleep mode when the lid is closed.

KisMAC is an application similar to Kismet that allows sniffing wireless networks in passive mode. Using the position data from the GPS receiver, it locates the detected access points and draws them on a map. It also creates a nice listing of network characteristics, such as the type of encryption and the currently connected clients. Here's a little summary of the data I sniffed today:

  • On a walking distance of approx 1 Kilometer, a total of 251 wireless access points were detected.
  • 11 access points use no encryption at all, meaning: free internet for everyone! Even if this sounds great, it's very insecure because anybody can intercept your network traffic and abuse your uplink, for which you are liable.
  • 15 access points are configured to use WEP encryption, which nowadays is equivalent to no encryption. WEP is vulnerable to several attacks, using the right tools it is possible to recover a WEP key within minutes.
  • 47 access points broadcast a network id (SSID) which leaks data about its owner. For example several access points were named after a local business or they contained the street address or simply just "John Doe's Network", which is a potential privacy issue makes social engineering really easy.
  • 43 access points use a brand name as SSID, e.g. "NETGEAR", "ZyXEL" or "DLink" which often is the default factory setting. This makes WPA attacks easier since the SSID is a component of the encryption key. Precomputed lookup tables for popular SSIDs can be used to speed up the process of cracking the pre-shared key.
  • The list of connected clients is also quite interesting. It is possible to derive the device vendor from the MAC addresses. It's no surprise that a great number of devices are manufactured by "Apple, Inc" since iOS-Devices are very popular in Switzerland. But there are also other devices such as Game Consoles ("Nintendo Co., Ltd.") and Wi-Fi Radios ("Slim Devices, Inc." which produce Logitech's Squeezebox).

All in all, this was quite instructive, and it makes me realize how many things you can do wrong when configuring an access point. Maybe the manufacturers should include a little booklet with best practices for securing wireless networks?