On one of my forays around the Internet, looking for things of interest in an otherwise boring lunch hour, I discovered the WiGLE project’s map of the world’s wireless networks. Of course, I looked to see if mine had been mapped. It was. This isn’t surprising as the project apparently has been running for about twelve years. I’m near enough to a major road.
It’s no big deal as far as I’m concerned. My wireless network is very well protected and I knew that anyone wanting to leech bandwidth would have quite likely discovered the easier open networks that exist within cooee of my house.
If your potential for paranoia is dying to get out, head to http://www.wigle.net/gps/gps/Map/onlinemap2/ and type Canberra in the google search bar down the bottom. Have a look at the suburbs on the map. There are some interesting things which I’ll point out. The main routes through Canberra appear to have been comprehensively mapped. That’s rather logical if someone is just cruising around for the hell of it. If you look closely, you’ll see some of the list of networks follow bikepaths, so someone has been riding around with, presumably, their phone running one of wigle’s android wardriving applications going.
Some suburbs are almost untouched. Some suburbs appear to have been almost comprehensively surveyed, It has also been done within this year if you filter results on years. It appears that there has been a bit of interest in mapping Canberra’s wireless networks in 2012. It also appears that if you’re in any sort of dead end street, you’re unlikely to be detected.
Even some of the apartment complexes in the areas of higher density housing have been mapped so someone has occasionally gone to the trouble of cruising through blocks of units.
The graphs that show encryption usage on the networks as a whole is encouraging. People appear to be getting the message. Encryption is there, so you should probably use it as most devices these days have a wireless capability inbuilt.
The number of contributors to the project has grown massively in the last few years as standalone programs to take advantage of the gps and wireless capabilities of a mobile data connected device have been exploited for the use of this project.
Some of the wireless network names are amusing. I spotted “I can hear you having sex” and “Asio surveillance van” with a few more highly offensive ones scattered in amongst it all.
Check out your house if you’ve got a wireless network. Make sure it is definitely encrypted with at least WPA or TKIP and preferably WPA2. Then you can ignore the WiGLE project and get on with your life.
But this might stir up the paranoid, so I figured I’d mention it. 🙂