wikiHow to War Drive

Many tech savvy individuals are beginning to adopt the hobby of "wardriving" - the fine art of finding and marking the locations and status of wireless networks. This can easily come in handy if you ever need to find a Wi-Fi network quickly and easily, and will hone your hacking skills.


  1. 1
    Obtain the proper equipment listed in the Things You'll Need section below.

  2. 2
    Obtain the necessary software:

    • Netstumbler for Windows
    • Kismac for Macs
    • Kismet for Linux
    • Wigle (Wireless Geographic Logging Engine) software (if you are using GPS)
  3. 3
    Learn the software. Guides are available from the links listed below.

  4. 4
    Set up in the car as follows:
    1. The following diagram shows an external wireless card with a pigtail attached to it connecting the antenna.
    2. The antenna connects to the roof of the car.
    3. The GPS device is attached via a USB serial adapter.
      Image titled Wardrive_laptop_289
  5. 5
    While driving through an area with various wireless access points, open the software mentioned earlier (Netstumbler, Kismac, or Kismet). As the driver continues along the route, the passenger should begin making note of where they were able to find signals.

  6. 6
    Upgrade to GPS for more efficiency and detail. GPS allows you to automatically map all points that are found to GPS coordinates. These coordinates can then be viewed later with a mapping program, or shared with the wardriving community.
    1. Get a GPS device and your Netstumbler and Wigle software running (see Tips)
  7. 7
    Register with Wigle on their website. After doing so, you will be able to download map packs of your area. These will be necessary to view the plotted access points that you found on a geographic map.
    1. After wardriving for a period of time while running the Netstumbler and Wigle software, you will have made a log file containing all of the coordinates of the access points.
    2. Upload this log file to Wigle, which will then automatically plot the points onto a map for you.
    3. Re-download the map pack to view these points on a map in Wigle.
  8. 8
    Hop in a car, or start walking around town and finding access points!


  • In order to use a GPS receiver in conjunction with your "sniffing" program, it will need to have a COM port interface. If a device you're looking to purchase says it has a "PC interface cable," it most likely has a COM port connection. If it has a USB interface, it will work as well. However, to use USB with Netstumbler you will need to use software that will come with the GPS unit called a "port bridger." This will replicate the USB port on your system as a COM port, fooling Netstumbler into thinking that the data is coming from one. Although Netstumbler currently only works natively through a COM port, USB functionality should be added in the future.
  • The best way to become more effective at the process is to simply experiment and not get overwhelmed. Wardriving can seem complicated at first, but after all of the pieces fall into place it should be a breeze. Over time you will learn strategies for more efficiently plotting an area, such as marking out a grid on a map before you go out, covering sections of it at a time and marking them off. This will ensure you cover the entire area.
  • Also make sure that the GPS device is capable of outputting "NMEA, Garmin Binary, Garmin Text, or Tripmate" data formats. This ensures that it will be able to communicate with a program such as Netstumbler.
  • GPS requires a higher level understanding of computers. If you feel intimidated by it, don't worry. It is not necessary to be able to war drive, but can be thought of as the next level.
  • For optimum results, travel at speeds of 35 mph (56 km/h) or below. Higher speeds such as 60 or 75 mph (97 or 121 km/h) are too quick for the equipment. You will fly by the access points and not be able to record the data.


  • Consider the legal and ethical implications of wardriving. It is almost always illegal to connect to another person’s wireless network. They are paying for the Internet access so some consider it no different than stealing something from their home. To assure legality do not connect to any network for any reason. The goal is simply to detect the network and mark its location.
  • The DRIVER SHOULD NOT BE OPERATING EQUIPMENT or software, but rather the passenger should. If you want to go alone, you should park the car when in a city and search from that area. The most ideal setup, however, is to simply place the laptop in the back seat and let the software do its thing.

Things You'll Need

  • Laptop (This can be done with any OS, although this guide only covers Windows and Mac OS)
  • Charged Battery
  • Car Laptop Charger or Extra Battery, or an inverter so you can plug your laptop in and power it off the car battery
  • Wireless Card
  • Optional: A small antenna that attaches to the roof of the car to strengthen the signal of your wireless card
  • * If you get the antenna, then you must buy a wireless card with an input that can connect to the antenna
  • * The connecter piece from the wireless card to the antenna is known as a pigtail and can be purchased from Fab-Corp (website listed below)
  • Optional: GPS receiver

Sources and Citations

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