War Dog walking for wireless access points

Patsy Ann's head in a flower pot
Trusty assistant servicing prototype antenna
Most people reading this have probably heard of "wardriving," where somone drives around wtih a wifi laptop with a GPS looking for wireless "hotspots" (Access Points or APs). The results are typically uploaded to a website such as Wigle.net where one can view the APs on a map or chart. A few years ago, someone in San Diego tried "warflying " over San Diego. Well, out of curiosity I decided to try wardogwalking, walking my dog looking for hotspots.

So, with dog leash and poop bag in one hand, and laptop running Kismet in the other, I gave it a try (hardware details below). However, as soon as I got outside, Kismet immediately found about 10. By the time I got done walking (10-15 minutes), Kismet found 60-some APs. 40 are displayed on the screen--that's all that would fit.

Security usage The main reason I did this is I was curious how many APs are in my neighborhood and how many are secured. Of the 40 or so APs, 10 (25%) were wide open, 24 (60%) were secured with WEP (which can be broken in a few minutes with downloadable software), and only 6 (15%) were secured with WPA (see column "W": "N" open, "Y" is WEP, and "O" os WPA).

Channel usage Looking at channel usage (column "Ch"), channel 6 was the most popular, the typical default, with channel 11 coming second. Channel 1 is the least popular, so that is usually the best to use. Note that if you or someone else has a 2.4GHz wireless phone, it's most likely to interfere with the upper channel,11, rather than 6 or 1. Other channels are used, such as 4, 6, 7, but those overlap with two out of channels 1, 6, and 11. Only channels 1, 6, and 11 should be used as the other's overlap (for example, channel 5 overlaps with channel 1 and 6).

Hardware Details For my wardogwalking, I used my IBM T40 Thinkpad. It has an IBM 11abg II wireless adapter and runs SuSE Linux 9.3 with Kismet (it also runs Win XP and Solaris 10). I used the built-in laptop antenna (instead of a "high-gain" antenna, which would have had better reception). I don't have a GPS, which real wardrivers use to plot where the APs are located.

Kismet display after War-dog-walking
Kismet output after dog walk

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