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Warchalking Visual Cues To Urban WLANs 193

Posted by chrisd
from the making-internet-cafes-obsolete dept.
elucidus writes "Matt Jones has put out a PDF and EPS outlining symbols to use in Warchalking the WLAN nodes of your community. Here's a pic. Ben Hammersly dubs them Hobo Runes." Brings to mind pictures of scruffy individuals around a fire with picturebooks, taking a pull from some ripple while reading slashdot.
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Warchalking Visual Cues To Urban WLANs

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  • Seems easier than trying to make out SSID's that are half washed away.

    Choose the "reconfigure" option and go!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Lack of durability is a feature: The more washed out a mark is, the older and therefore less reliable is the conveyed information.
      • If you were using something other than chalk to mark the spot, that's a good reference. Unfortunately, chalk doesn't last much longer than one or two light showers, so unless you're in a VERY dry place the warchalk marks will be gone pretty quickly. They don't stand a chance in Seattle.
    • Yes stick to that. This chalk thingy just gives me the feeling that somehow, we went 30.000 years back in technical evolution.

      Or maybe that's what cavemen wanted to say; if they painted an antilope on a wall it was to say their was a high-speed wireless internet connection.
  • The IT professionals among us are rightly concerned about software security implementations, especially from a well-known company in Washington State [microsoft.com]. The even more knowledgeable are concerned about the protocols themselves. This concern is 10 times greater when the network data is whizzing through the air for anyone to intercept. Luckily I've had an idea that may prove fruitful as a first line of defense against tactics such as war hacking and driving.

    Despite the catchy slogan, sometimes obscurity can provide a small measure of security. The first step in securing wireless networks should be making the transmissions uninterceptable by hackers. Therefore I would like to invoke the concept of "guided wavefronts". What you do is you provide a contained medium that is impervious to casual break-ins within which the signal can propagate.

    The scheme could prove bulky, so I propose that the contained medium should be made of some material that will conduct an electric charge quite well, such as metal. If this is done I suspect the guided wavefront containers could be made as small as 1/8"-1/4" in diameter. Also, there will be a certain amount of secondary leakage because of electromagnetic radiation produced by the contained signal, but making the container out of some kind of shielding matter would solve this issue.

    I haven't seen anything like this concept on the market but it seems like a good idea. How come nobody is working on it?

  • by Migrant Programmer (19727) on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @03:23PM (#3764405) Journal
    What is that supposed to mean?

    "Breast viewing permitted from 1-5 pm only"
    "Caution, cleavage overhead"
    • I hate to be the one to bring this up, but that picture looks more like ass cheeks than a pair of breasts... Is this a "bum" pun in theme with the posting of this story? I'm not sure I would like to be seen drawing icons of asses around my neighborhood.

      Bork!
    • This is why you should READ the article before looking at pictures and posting comments.

      It is clearly described as 1-5 AM

      -Em
    • What is that supposed to mean?

      ..Well.. The ssid is like an ID name for a network, sorta like a domain or something, the bandwidth is exactly what it implies it is, and the little half circles mean open network (closed circle means closed network.. encrypted perhaps?)
      And of course the 802 jazz is all wireless networking. I gather that the gig is , one sees the sign and knows a public or misconfigured(therefore public) lan is available to hook to.

      I think.

  • I don't know to laugh or be afraid of this one:
    http://www.tackamarks.freeservers.com/ [freeservers.com] - how street signs tell the military what resources are where.
    • More like "how street signs make parinoid whackos think they are telling them about where the military can find resources"
    • Laugh. Those are install date tags. Their placement means nothing. And why should they? The military already knows the whereabouts of anything they might need or be concerned about. Some people just need a life that is more exciting and dangerous than the real thing, but in a non-threatening way.
    • Did anyone else refresh the page just to watch the counter record the /. effect?
    • I don't know to laugh or be afraid of this one:
      If you're of the paranoid, conspiracy theorist persuasion, be afraid, otherwise laugh hysterically.
    • Heh, laugh (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DG (989) on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @04:19PM (#3764714) Homepage Journal
      My job - before I retired - in the Canadian Army was armoured recce. We were the guys who went out in advance of the main troop body, looking for the bad guys so that the good guys with big guns could come kill them.

      One of our other jobs was to survey routes and determine their suitability for passing military traffic. We would prepare "route reports" that would indicate widths, overhead clearences, the strength of the road surface (tanks chew up roads pretty quickly) and how much weight bridges could carry (we were taught techniques for inspecting bridges and making guesses as to how much weight they would hold.)

      Certain types of "resources" would be noted on the reports, but they tended to be things like "gravel pit here" (for repairing roads torn up by tanks) or "harbour site here" (a good place to park vehicles off the route)

      If anybody were to know about "secret peacekeeper sign codes" it would be us - and I can state categorically that there is no such thing.

      There ARE some military signs around, but in North America they are temporary, not permenent. If you see a sign with a card suit on it, and an arrow (or sometimes a unit patch) that is a convoy route mark sign. It helps keep the poor non-recce types from getting lost while moving from one place to another, and they are removed once the convoy is complete.

      In Europe, you'll see a lot of "bridge classification" signs that will have a tank, and a number, and possibly a truck, and a number. The number is the number of tons the bridge will support, the tank represents "tracked vehicles" and the truck represents "wheeled vehicles"

      But these guys are absolute loons.

      Feel free to laugh.

      DG
      • As an ex-tanker and an ex-recce I must take issue with the 'keep the poor non-recce types' statement. I've seen than a few recce types get a little geographically embarassed whilst doing sector and area recce's.
      • Almost makes me want a wireless network just to get the cool rune...

        Anyone know what the 1.5 is? Signal strength? Channel number?
      • <style="paranoid">
        That's exactly what a government stooge would say. A little Uncertainty, maybe a little Distrust of the original site. Short of Fear, but maybe that's just to make us trust you.

        How else can you explain your three digit user number if you're not an infiltrator?
        </style>

    • Guess you learn something new every day...

      I thought those marks were "this road sign best if used by" dates.

      -- Terry
  • by nomadic (141991)
    I was trying to think up something suitably acerbic to say, but I can't. That's a damn slick idea, and I salute him.
  • So, won't it be interesting to look out your window and find one of these runes on the side of the building across the street...say, a rival company? There they are, broadcasting their secrets to the world. How convenient, you can just login from the window near your desk.

    Hmmm...that reminds me...I should go check our Wireless configuration.
    • Even worse - the joke is on you. You look again and see that they have your wireless access point listed there as having a T3 connection for anyone :)
    • So, won't it be interesting to look out your window and find one of these runes on the side of the building across the street...say, a rival company? There they are, broadcasting their secrets to the world. How convenient, you can just login from the window near your desk.

      Does rather bring back memories of Reg the Blank, of Max Headroom, eh? Corporate giants all over the place and some guy running a tiny network off out of a trailer off in the ruins somewhere. :-)

    • I was working for a major tech company when it became "the big idea" amoung business units to purchase and deploy their own wireless access points. Needless to say, simply walk by or in to our company parking lots / campus and you had unrestricted access to the internal network. As we went through the process of getting a handle on this situation, we used to joke about how our competitors were just down the street... and say... has anybody noticed any new antenas on their building?
  • How Times Change (Score:5, Interesting)

    by johnalex (147270) on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @03:26PM (#3764430) Homepage

    During the Depression, hoboes used signs to signal where they could get a meal. Nowadays, geeks use signs to signal where we can get a decent 'Net connection. We're hungry, but we're informed.

    Who cares about eating as long as I get my /. fix.

  • Interesting Idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by someone247356 (255644) on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @03:28PM (#3764447)
    If I was in charge of my company's networking I'ld be keeping an eye out for interesting chalk marks around my building....

  • by ackthpt (218170)
    Brings to mind pictures of scruffy individuals around a fire with picturebooks, taking a pull from some ripple while reading slashdot.

    I was so shocked by this insinuation that I nearly dropped a handfull of beans!

    Next Battleground: Freedom of Speech! Do I have the right to shout on a crowded street, 'Kynance, open node, 1-5' ?

  • Oh great... (Score:5, Funny)

    by InnereNacht (529021) <paulp@lappensecurity.com> on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @03:29PM (#3764454)
    Before you know it some poor geek is going to get beat down in urban Chicago by a gang because they think he's marking their "turf".
  • Reading this gives a nostalgic feeling of Lain...

    kinda like when the wired and the "real world" is being blended together.

    which, really, it's true. in a can-be-very-helpful-but-still-somewhat-creepy kind of way.
  • by hprotagonist0 (312387) on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @03:35PM (#3764482)
    Wardriving,
    Warwalking
    Warchalking...


    Warhopscotch
    Warsitting
    Wardrinking (If there's a glass with a coaster on top of it on the bar, there's an open WLAN)
    WarSegwaying
    Wargeocaching [geocaching.com]
  • As Matt's server screams in the dark London night, you could spell my name right...HammerslEy

    Anyhow, the pic on Matt's site shows the rune to my wireless node [benhammersley.com]. It's in Kensington, just round the corner from Imperial College. A T1. Help yourself.

  • Warchalking? (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Why make a new word when "vandalism" already describes this activity?
    • or even better, "open vandalism"
    • Re:Warchalking? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by disappear (21915)
      Why make a new word when "vandalism" already describes this activity?

      If it washes off when it rains, is it still vandalism?

      Last I checked, vandalism was damaging or destroying property. Spraypaint or marker might be considered vandalism because it's permanant, but chalk?

      • nopr, you get caught chalking up somebodies building, its still vandalism.

        If I wrote in big chalk letters on the side of your house "RAPIST INSIDE", I bet you would consider it vandalism.
        • If I wrote in big chalk letters on the side of your house "RAPIST INSIDE", I bet you would consider it vandalism.

          Not vandalism. assuming no damage to the house. But certainly trespass, regardless of the message, and libel, regardless of whether you write that on my house, or you write "RAPIST AT " on your own.

    • Why make new words like "computer" when the word "thing" already describes something? Because it is more specific and informative.

      "Vandalism" doesn't even begin to describe the true nature of this, just as "atoms" doesn't describe your wife/girlfriend/stalkee/pornmodel.

  • by Target Drone (546651) on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @03:47PM (#3764544)
    Somebody should go down to O'Reilly and draw the warchalk symbol for a slash dotted node on their building.
  • Why not just use the WiFi Logo? All these open, closed circles, ssids etc, is too confusing.

    (WiFi Logo Here)
    www.domain.com/wifi


    If you saw this on the side of a building, you should have enough to go on. If that site wants you to use their system, then the URL would point to a page telling you everything you need to know to share their system.

  • Theft of services? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @04:08PM (#3764655)
    Amazing. 48 comments as of this post and no one has yet commented on the obvious: that these signs are nothing more than telling people where they can steal free bandwidth.

    Isn't anybody worried about a "tragedy of the commons" effect here? One or two people chancing upon an open WiFi link is one thing, but a systematic method of exploiting bandwith amounts to a denial of service attack upon the poor network that's targeted.

    This is F***ing ridiculous. Go buy your OWN damn access and stop taking others' just because you can.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You should lock up your system "just because you can," otherwise, I'll snag a few packets of your bandwidth to check my e-mail via ssh and pine, "just because I can."

      (notice the use of low-bandwidth methods, though.)
    • NOT ridiculous (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Mr. Firewall (578517)

      ...these signs are nothing more than telling people where they can steal free bandwidth.

      [snip]

      This is F***ing ridiculous. Go buy your OWN damn access and stop taking others' just because you can.

      This is not ridiculous at all, since the United States' cybersecurity czar said that these idiots deserve their fate:

      "If you spend more on coffee than on IT security, then you ... deserve to be hacked."

      http://news.com.com/2100-1001-840335.html

      I'm sorry, but these morons desperately need a wake-up call.

  • How Long Until... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Transient0 (175617) on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @04:08PM (#3764659) Homepage
    ...some PHB who can't stop these marks from appearing gets scared of having their files stolen by little geeks with butterfly nets outside the building, but who's too cheap to hire the talent or buy the hardware to secure their wireless network, starts telling his cronies to go out on their lunch break and draw these symbols up everywhere, thus negating their effectiveness.

    Sort of a chaff-defence, but i'm pretty sure it would work...
  • I used to live right by there. I lived in London for two years 9'92-'94) and I lived at #17 Queens Gate Gardens, SW7. I checked streetmap.co.uk to make sure I was remembering it right, and yeah. I used to walk by there; I don't remember P'tite Delice, but it may be new.

    Nice neighbourhood, and embassies every six feet. The Kuwaiti and the Iraqi embassies were just down the street from each other on Queen's Gate and about a block away from each other. A friend of mine used to go to Imperial College during the Gulf War and said it was a pretty interesting street...

  • SSID (Score:3, Funny)

    by b1t r0t (216468) on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @04:10PM (#3764667)
    Won't the lusers unintentionally running wide-open nodes get suspicious when they see a chalk mark outside that says "LINKSYS )("?
    • They'll probably blame the City.
    • Only lusers need to know the SSID to connect to the network anyway. Those of us with Macs needn't worry about such trivial things.
  • It seems that this is an interesting idea, but lacking in usability. There are two major problems as I see it.

    1.) The chalk will be easily washed away, and the location lost. (not to mention they warn the local network administrators)

    2.) You have to just walk around and randomly find one of these markings.

    A better solution would be somewhere online that warchalkers could upload locations (GPS maybe) and then you could easily find the access point nearest you.

    - RG
    ==================
    Don't pet the burning dog
    • A better solution would be somewhere online that warchalkers could upload locations (GPS maybe) and then you could easily find the access point nearest you.

      They already have that [netstumbler.com]. Now, imagine you're walking down the street and you need to find an open system. You can't check the web to find one because you need to find one to check the web. This is supposed to be a solution to the problem. (although netstumber/ministumbler would be fine too)...

  • I'm sorry, I live in London. That picture is in London. But what the fuck are you talking about?

    Is this some annoying "west coast" bollocks again or what?
  • The IBM fiasco (Score:3, Insightful)

    by peterdaly (123554) <petedaly@ix.net c o m . c om> on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @04:24PM (#3764741)
    Remember when IBM was hauled into court for marking up city sidewalks with the love/peace/linux thing?

    Now we'll see love/peace/linux/<802.11b info>.

    Free lov^M^M^MBandwidth for all!

    -Pete
    • IBM Used Paint (Score:2, Informative)

      by tlambert (566799)
      THe people that IBM hired to do their "Guerilla Marketing" were *supposed* tu use a chalk powder; instead, they used paint.

      The cities that got upset did so because of the use of *paint*.

      They might be able to nail you for getting the building instead of the sidewalk, without banning Toys-R-Us from selling "sidewalk chalk", but woe to the little kid who draws on the side of his tenament, if that happens.

      Basically, chalk is "mostly harmless".

      "Contributory theft of services" might be an option... but it'd have to wait until after theft of services resulted from the marking (and they'd have to prove it was the marking, not just "war driving", that identified the victim).

      There are actually a couple of obvious legal arguments on both sides (e.g. "I thought they put up the markings themselves" vs. "I was warning the admin"), wich could confuse things immensely.

      -- Terry
  • wow. (Score:2, Funny)

    by evilpaul13 (181626)
    taking a pull from some ripple while reading slashdot

    boy does that bring back memories!
  • Sorry to be the only one not to know what a WEP node is. Anyone care to help out?
    • It means you are using a lame encryption method that hackers are definately gonna want to break in to. Actually it means Wire Equivalent Privacy or something like that, it's a MAC level security system. But it's busted.
    • WEP = Wired Equivalent Privacy. It's a wireless security protocol that was supopsed to make your wireless communication at least as secure as if it were running across an ethernet cable (but not necesarily any more so). It gets a lot of flak because it's not very secure; but it was never really intended to be.
  • Oh great, go around drawing on bits of other people's walls so it becomes a bit easier to leech off some third person's network connection.

    If these people are so technically clued-up, why not use computers to do the work? Store the geographical information in a file and download it to your machine once a week or so. Then either use GPS or just type in the street name.
  • Ok, according to the PDF the number below the symbol is supposed to be the ammount of bandwidth the node in question has. So, just how many kbps is "1*5"?
  • by 00_NOP (559413) on Tuesday June 25, 2002 @05:51PM (#3765401) Homepage
    ...because I am one of those people trying to seriously encourage community wireless [consume.net] and if that activity is seen to be some sort of cracker plot it will be damaged.

    I want the local computer users near me to buy wireless cards and log into my node, they aren't going to buy the cards if they think somebody is going to use them to steal their data.
    • I take your point, but I think Matt's reasoning (which I agree with) is that to get online via a wireless node you have to know where it is.



      To find out where it is, you have to online. Unless you see a visual clue - this is one way of doing that. My consume node [consume.net] is the one in the picture.

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