Wardriving Advertising: Smart or Shady?

The other week we asked our readers whether they thought advertising via bluetooth was smart or shady and we got some great responses last time. This week we’ll ask whether wardriving advertising is smart or shady.

So what is wardriving?
Wardriving is the process of going for a drive though your neighborhood with wireless gear and seeking out unsecured wireless networks.

So how would a computer business owner turn this into some money? Read on.

A business owner could go driving with the wireless gear such as a laptop, directional antenna and NetSumbler, find open networks and drop advertising into letterboxes of houses with open networks. Perhaps something along the lines of:

Do you have a wireless network?

Did you purchase your wireless access point, plugged it in, it worked and then you left it alone? Do you have to type in a password to access your wireless internet? Chances are that your wireless network isn’t secured. An unsecured wireless networks allows anyone in the area (including your neighbors) to use your internet and possibly view files on your computer.

For $30, we can come around to your house and secure your wireless internet for you which only allows your own computers to use your wireless network. The process usually takes under 10 minutes and will give you piece of mind.

How can you tell which house has the open wireless network? Well, you will need a directional wireless antenna such as a Cantenna. A Cantenna will direct your wireless signal in one direction so you can find out which house it is by pointing it at them.

Cantennas are easily and cheaply available:

Is this legal?
I believe that in America any unaddressed mail is illegal and the Cantenna may be illegal in California. However, the laws regarding mailbox drops are alot more lax in other countries such as Australia.

Unlike normal mailbox drops, this method is highly targeted as the only people who get your flyer are those who actually need your services. Perhaps you are doing them a public service by securing their network?

So, what do you guys think? Is Wardriving Advertising Smart or Shady?
As always, comments are open and you don’t need to register to make a post, you can even post anonymously. Our top commentators get a backlink to their website from Technibble as seen in the lower left of our pages.

Bryce Whitty

About the Author

Bryce Whitty
More articles by me...
Bryce is an Australian computer technician and the founder of Technibble. He started his computer repair business when he was 17 years old and is still running it 9 years later. He is an avid traveller and spends at least a month of the year in another country.

Comments (6)

  • Dipper says:

    You have to be very very careful doing this.

    To actually confirm the house has an open wireless network you actually need to connect to the network. Some countries have laws against connecting to computer networks without permission.

  • Bryce W says:

    I think all countries have a law for unauthorized entry to a network. Sure to truely make sure if someone has an open network you need to connect as they may have no WEP/WPA but have MAC address filtering.
    However, Ive rare see that setup so chances are the network is still open.

  • I hooked up a GPS to my laptop and it was able to get within 9 ft of the AP. Only problem according to my Lawyers at the time (couple years ago) was that it’s a very thin line between legal and extortion. Gotta be careful. Plus, it reminds me of those old gangster movies where two big thugs walk into a family owned neighborhood store offering “protection”. That said, I never seriously pursued it.

  • Hank says:

    Well if you target based on wardriving which I believe it’s self is not illegal how ever as stated if you connect that is when you typically have commited a crime. The ethical question in this is blurred agian more or less I do see this as more invasive as you are actively going out in search. The bluetooth to me if setup so when they walk by the shop it advertises it not so much. You do have the benifit here of making it so your ad is not informing them that you know its unsecured. Simpyl see the unsecured and offer security service never specifing why you offered it to them.

  • Noodle2732 says:

    Personally, i wouldn’t choose this method to advertise. It wont be very easy to pinpoint a wifi network to a door house in a row of terrace house’s and most people just throw away ‘Junk Mail’ anyway so i personally would consider this a waste of effort. Gd idea though but not for me

  • Hmm, interesting idea, but you can never rule out the possibility that something might go wrong with the users pc, and he might blame you for it. As he would think that you hacked into his network and infected his computer so you can sell your services to him.

    In the end, the situation could get pretty messy..