Wardriving software falls into several different categories, the most basic of which detects and maps wireless access points. Packet sniffers and traffic analyzers, as well as signal strength and security monitors, are also types of wardriving software. Encryption cracking and network attacking software is also related. This software is usually used in wardriving with a laptop, Wi-Fi™ card and Global Positioning System (GPS) device. It is often used by people who roam neighborhoods and wireless networks in search of vulnerable Wi-Fi™ access points.
All that is required to use most wardriving software is some type of mobile computer with a Wi-Fi™ interface. The computer can be a laptop, Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) or other type of portable system. As long as its wireless card is compatible with the chosen wardriving software, its internal antenna should work. An external one should significantly increase the number of access points discovered, however. A serial-based GPS device can be used to triangulate and map the identified points.
Most wardriving software is available for Microsoft Windows®, Linux®, UNIX® and Apple® Mac® OS/X®. Much of it is open source code as well. A notorious exception is Netstumbler, a common Windows® utility that listens and probes for publicly-visible access points. It doesn't attempt to connect to, sniff or crack anything, but it is effective at discovering and recording network beacons. An open source Linux® variation called Kismet can find hidden networks and does sniff, log and dump packet data.
When a GPS device is connected to the serial port, a system can use wardriving software that maps the discovered access points. The GPS may be connected to a Universal Serial Bus (USB) port instead; port bridge software can route its data to the legacy serial port as needed. Mapping software can triangulate the position of a wireless access point from several different directions. It can also talk to websites which track known access points in the region and add newly-discovered points to the sites.
Network administrators often use wardriving software to locate unintentional or rogue hotspots. These unauthorized back doors through the corporate firewall can be major security issues. This software is also used to locate dead or weak spots in the signal coverage of known access points.
Some people use encryption cracking features of wardriving software to break into protected networks. This software is designed to analyze traffic in order to crack Wi-Fi™ Protected Access (WPA) and Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) keys. Some programs simply use dictionary attacks or other brute-force methods as well. Once keys are known, carefully-crafted packets can be injected into the traffic stream to penetrate networks. These packets may exploit vulnerabilities in the underlying network protocols and trigger denial-of-service attacks.