betabug... Sascha Welter

home english | home deutsch | Site Map | Sascha | Kontakt | Pro | Weblog | Wiki

24 January 2009

Taking my Phone out for Wardriving

Which means: Find out what wifi networks exist someplace
screen shot of wifi positions obtained through wardriving, in Google Earth

"Wardriving" is a catchy name which means mapping the availability of wifi networks in an area. Usually it involves a laptop, a wifi card, a GPS receiver, and driving all that equipment around (e.g. in a car, you could also "warwalk" if you can carry it all). Wardriving does not actually mean accessing those networks you found, though some people mix these things up too. Time and technology move forward, so yesterday I discovered that with a little piece of software I have everything I need to go wardriving right in my new Nokia e71 mobile phone.

On the web I found this howto for wardriving the N95 (which seems to have been copied a couple of times on the web, so I have no idea if this is really the original author there). Basically it's using two pieces of software from - GPSd and Barbelo (mobile codes for phone access: GPSd and Barbelo) - to connect to the phone's GPS and do the actual scanning and logging.

The resulting logfiles are then transferred into the computer, converted to "Google earth format" and imported into "Google earth" to see them on a satellite map of the city, as pictured. Looks funny.

There are some small problems with all this: The "Barbelo" program is crashy as hell, it's "use at your own risk" software (so don't blame me when it messes up your phone, I warned you just now). It also does not handle Greek characters in the wifi Station IDs, I had to manually edit the "null characters" it inserts there and that would block the xml conversion. In the xml conversion somehow the stations signal strength disappeared. The last problem: Apparently the searching for wifi networks happens only punctually, not continually, there's always a bunch of stations lumped together on one position.

One result was not really surprising: There are still a lot of "open", unencrypted wireless networks around. Here in Athens there are some providers who deliver wifi-routers "open" to their customers and those customers don't care / do not know how to secure their network.

Posted by betabug at 12:53 | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)
ch athens
Life in Athens (Greece) for a foreigner from the other side of the mountains. And with an interest in digital life and the feeling of change in a big city. Multilingual English - German - Greek.
Main blog page
Recent Entries
Best of
Some of the most sought after posts, judging from access logs and search engine queries.

Apple & Macintosh:
Security & Privacy:
Misc technical:
Athens for tourists and visitors:
Life in general:
<< Choco Bolts | Main | e-shopped Camera >>
Re: Taking my Phone out for Wardriving

I cant convert the xml log into a kml file for google hearth...can you help me?

Posted by: King at March 14,2009 15:10
Re: Taking my Phone out for Wardriving

Can't really help you, Mr. King. Only thing I noticed is that the converter programs had problems with non-ascii characters in SSID names, so I deleted those.

Posted by: betabug at March 14,2009 17:42
Re: Taking my Phone out for Wardriving

I used kisgearth to convert the XML files to KML. Worked "OK".

Like the author said, Barbelo is REALLY buggy, and there hasn't been any active development on it for quite some time (which is a shame, since it is a great tool).

Debian-based GNU/Linux distributions require libxml-simple-perl.

Posted by: Tiago Faria at May 31,2009 15:52
Re: Taking my Phone out for Wardriving

wouldn't it be easier to use an Android powered tablet or phone and use's app? After driving or walking around the neighborhood, upload the data to with a tap of a button. Just a suggestion.

Posted by: Pat Jones at July 20,2014 02:53
Re: Taking my Phone out for Wardriving

Pat, please notice the date at the top of the post: 24 January 2009. Looking at the history of Android on wikipedia at the time you could have used one of the early Google Android phones or a HTC Dream. I certainly don't remember any Android tablets at the time. I also doubt that had been around.

Thanks for reading though :-)

Posted by: betabug at July 20,2014 06:16
You can trackback to:
There are no trackbacks.