War driving is a more deliberate version of this behavior. War drivers have specialized detections programs that are more sensitive than the general network locators on computers. These individuals drive around until they locate an unsecured networks, then document the location. Some may not use them personally, but may publish these unsecured networks to an internet site for others to use. Many war drivers have stated what they are doing is a public service letting and residents know if their network can be accessed.
It’s not always easy to determine whether someone who is looking for unsecured network connections is doing so for illegal purposes. Some may want to locate unsecured networks to help out a friend who can’t afford internet service or to publish it on a website so anyone who is unable to get internet service can use the information. Others may create what is intended to be a widely viewed website to inform those with unsecured networks to prevent them from having their networks accessed without their knowledge.. Regardless of the reason however, a war driver cannot know who will use the information for what purposes and to date at least one person has been charged and
As there have been many cases of war drivers who used the information to break into corporate networks and steal company records, steal credit care information, or other illegal activities, even using an unsecured network once to test whether it is truly accessible is illegal and can result in jail time.
I think war driving should be illegal. The argument that it doesn’t cost anyone anything unless used for nefarious purposes has two problems. First, when you publish something to the internet you lose control over who will see it and for what purposes the information will be used. Secondly, many people now use mobile hotspots with limited monthly data for networking. When others use their network they are using some of their data such that they run out quicker and may have to significantly increase the amount of data they buy each month. Finally, the argument that locating and publishing this data is for the wellbeing of consumers who do not know their network is vulnerable to access by others isn’t logical. Most people who aren’t savvy enough to be able to secure their internet network against access by others do not know to search the web to see if their address is on a watchdog list. For all these reasons, whether the war driver uses the network for their own purposes, even if not nefarious, or whether they never use it but publish the information this should be considered an illegal activity for which similar penalties should result as if they had broken into someone’s home or business and stolen a material object.
Koerner, Brendan. License to Wardrive. Legal Affairs, May/June 2005. Web. 3 July 2014.