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With a wireless network connection, a mobile user can connect to a local area network (LAN) without physical interconnecting wires. Wireless networks are increasingly popular, not only in the corporate environment, but in the home environment as well. For the home network, this technology allows a laptop user in the kitchen to connect to the Internet to look for a recipe one moment, and browse movie show times while sitting on the patio sipping a hot latté the next moment.
Wireless LANs have gained strong popularity in a number of professional arenas, including health care, retail, manufacturing, warehousing, and academia. These industries have benefited from the productivity gains associated with using hand-held terminals and notebook computers to transmit information to centralized hosts for processing.
Wireless technologies, if not properly secured, can leave your network and information very vulnerable. In most cases, anyone within range of an access point can intercept the wireless signal with a properly-equipped receiver. Unfortunately, this is only one of the problems inherent with wireless LANs. Here are some others.
- Jamming, either intentionally, or from interference by other devices using the same radio frequency such as microwave ovens and certain cordless phones.
- Compromising vulnerabilities in the wireless architecture in order to change or steal data.
- Lanjackers who use your wireless network, without your authorization, to send spam.
LanJacking or WarDriving
With the advent of wireless networking, there has been a rise in a new form of cracking called WarDriving or LanJacking. Crackers will drive around in a car with a laptop computer equipped with a wireless network card in search of unsecured wireless networks. Once they have attached to an unsecured wireless network, crackers can use it to send spam, attack other systems, or intercept your data. Unfortunately, these attacks will usually be traced back to the wireless network owner, and not to the malicious WarDriver who is responsible for the attacks.