Wireless networks and always-on connectivity are a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, these technologies give us access to more knowledge and entertainment than ever before. We can work wherever we want, stream video and music wherever we want and have the full Internet experience at the tips of our fingers.
On the other, however, we have a constant vulnerability to potential attacks. Fraudsters and hackers are consistently working to find new ways to break into devices, steal data and make a profit. One of these ways is a process called “wardriving”, which uses the reality of Wi-Fi hotspots to facilitate attacks.
How Does Wardriving Work?
Wardriving is the process of locating wireless network access points in the wild, attempting to connect and exploiting the devices on those networks.
Consider this: have you ever pulled out your smartphone and opened up your wireless network settings? Have you noticed the list of (usually protected) network names? Were you to know the passwords for any of those networks, you could join them and, hypothetically, access any device on that network.
Wardriving, then, is when hackers use tools to find wireless networks near them that don’t have proper security measures in place so that they can break into them and, following that, other computers on the system. The term “wardriving” comes from the practice of driving in a car with more advanced Wi-FI technology to fish for unprotected networks.
Strangely, this kind of vulnerability fishing is done by both white hat hackers and black hats alike. The latter is compiling this data for obvious reasons, but other groups compile this information to raise awareness and provoke remediation.
What is Evil Twin Wardriving?
An alternate version of wardriving is the “evil twin” variant, where hackers in a van or other location may set up a hotspot with a similar or identical name to your business’s Wi-Fi network. Typically used for public networks, this honeypot will trick customers or passers-by to connect to their network, thinking they are connecting to yours.
At that point, unless the user has a hardened device, their information and systems are essentially captured by the hackers.
How Does Wardriving Play into Compliance?
This kind of hacking seems, on the surface, to mainly impact retailers and their customers. But with this interconnected world we live in, it will inevitably have an impact on businesses that need to maintain some level of compliance with regulations. Even if your organization doesn’t have a public Wi-Fi, there can be several ways it can affect you:
- If you are a business that processes payments, wardriving can open up attack surfaces against your customer data that you didn’t take into account. This is a significant concern for potential PCI DSS compliance violations.
- Your employees may use Wi-Fi hotspots to connect work devices to (accidentally or not) and, without proper protection , they are opening up company data to exposure. This can be a problem for anyone working with protected data (HIPAA, FedRAMP, etc.).
- Wardriving makes it impossible to know for certain that the recipient of protected data is 100% secure. Even using technology like SFTP or other encrypted tools, the person receiving data on a compromised network could still be exposing your company to liability.
The important thing to remember about this kind of hack is that the victim, whether you or someone else, may never know that they are compromised, all the while allowing hackers to hijack machines and listen to data transmissions uninterrupted.
How Can You Detect Wardriving?
When hackers are “wardriving”, they will use specific technologies to do so:
- Wi-Fi Phishing Software
- GPS tools
- A wireless network receiver or antenna
- A vehicle (typically a van or larger covered automobile)
With that being said, it isn’t the case that you’ll always be able to simply recognize wardriving as it is happening. You can’t run out of your business after every van that drives by. Instead, it’s critical to have your network security in place and up to spec to ensure it is protected.
This includes several steps that you should take:
- Always use the highest level of encryption technology for all networks. This applies especially to public networks used by your customers, where random devices will connect every day.
- Utilize a complex password for the Wi-Fi network, and only provide it to customers (in cases of public networks). You should never release the password for a business network.
- Change passwords regularly. Update private passwords once a month, and public passwords once a week.
- Use Multifactor Authentication (MFA) for private networks.
- Use your devices to check local networks. If you see other networks advertising themselves by your public Wi-Fi hotspot name, then you are probably the victim of wardriving.
These methods of protecting your network from “wardrivers” are also the best practices for securing your network from unauthorized access. Networks that are not encrypted are a prime target for hackers. Secure your systems and your network by always ensuring that the highest encryption level available on your router and devices is used.
Stay Compliant Whenever You Can
If you are working with specific data, like payment data, government data or healthcare data, you must adhere to compliance frameworks (which will then contribute to your Wi-Fi security profile). An experienced security partner can help you with both your compliance and your Wi-Fi security.
Lazarus Alliance is a proactive cyber security®. Call 1-888-896-7580 to discuss your organization’s cybersecurity needs and find out how we can help your organization adhere to cybersecurity regulations, maintain compliance, and secure your systems.