WiFi WarDrive Van Prototype

War Drive Van Prototype

I built this Prototype Wifi “WarDriving” Van in 2001 & 2002 – the only one of it’s kind to be used in corporate demonstrations to enhance security for the emerging WiFi market. At this time, most WiFi (WLAN) networks were not secured, or if so, only by the means of weak 64/128 bit WEP keys.

In support of Melior’s Internet & Infrastructure Services business (prior to the much greater threat of Denial-of-Service attacks), this van was be able to capture WiFi data within a 1.5 mile range, crunch (decrypt) some of the captured data with the on-board computer systems (in “stealth” mode, due to the large power inverter and AGM batteries in the back, allowing to power the on-board systems without having to start the engine and draw attention), or transmit captured data – for decryption at the home office via the Cray and cluster computer systems.

The use of the Cray and clusters was intended to accelerate the decryption process (compared to on-board CPU power), to decipher 1,024 bit keys during business meetings with potential clients, and present them with the clear key at the end of the meeting, thus delivering a much stronger message to enhance security measures.

Since this was a service offer to clients, the van was clearly marked (even at DefCon 2003 in Las Vegas…).

Equipped with a

  • Police Scanner as an ‘early warning system’ (simulating the approach of the “bad guys”),
  • Special-made alternator to feed the
  • 2,500 watt / 130 AMP power Inverter with 4 AGM batteries
  • High-load-bearing tires with 2 spares
  • Special WiFi high-range booster antennae
  • Many other “specialty” gear

this prototype van performed

  • WiFi network security demonstrations in downtown Dallas
  • Along the I-75 corridor from Plano to downtown Dallas
  • On an 8-mile distance scan across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco (from the Marin Highlands targeting the downtown San Francisco financial district),
  • At the Las Vegas – based DEFCON 2003 conference
  • A Melior-sponsored exhibition and conference on WiFi at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Spring 2002.

With the dDoS “DNS root server” attacks on October 21st and 22nd, 2002, which almost took out the entire global Internet, the focus to develop an effective defense against distributed Denial-of-Service attacks took precedence over pursuing WiFi Security services, and the van, the Cray, and related systems were retired.