University of Oulu

Wireless network security status in Oulu : war-driving

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Author: Zhao, Yurong1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, Department of Information Processing Science, Information Processing Science
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 6.8 MB)
Pages: 58
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : Y. Zhao, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-06-24
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Singh, Prateek
Hartikainen, Heidi
Reviewer: Rajanen, Mikko
Hartikainen, Heidi


Wireless networks have improvement not only in the timeliness, frequency, convenience and flexibility of connecting to the Internet, but also in economic cost and expansion of the number and location of access points that a user can connect to the internet. They have gained popularity especially after Wireless Local Area Network second evolvement about changing initial secure algorithm Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) to Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and WPA2. WEP has been found to have vulnerabilities in cryptographic techniques and can’t defend against brute force attacks for more than a few minutes and is considered broken nowadays. WPA, a stronger encryption algorithm than WEP, made Wi-Fi a reliable network connection method.

Wi-Fi security issues have been found probably since the first wireless network was deployed, but it is widely known by people because of Peter Shipley’s wardriving experimentation and the statistic report which has been published in hacker conference in 2001. Several experiments have been carried out to reveal Wi-Fi security issues and to improve users’ awareness of Wi-Fi security. Wardriving is not a new concept, but only lately wardriving was becoming easier for wardrivers because of continued evolution of technology. The updated software and hardware that are utilized in wardriving have given this activity more economic value and attracted interest from other researchers too. But this method has not yet been used in Oulu, at least in academic research. No studies have reported about wireless network security status with wardriving method by flying a drone to discover wireless APs and most of wardriving has been done by car, walking, or biking. Furthermore, Oulu, as a technology hub with many ICT companies and citywide panOULU public Wi-Fi infrastructure, makes it an ideal location for this experiment.

What is Wi-Fi performance and security status in Oulu? Author will scan wireless networks in Oulu center area with a tool kit setting up with Raspberry Pi, Wi-Fi adaptor, GPS receiver and drone using a method called wardriving. Wardriving is the act of discovering and mapping wireless networks in a certain area and restoring access points’ data, such as an encryption standard, network name and location. The fundamental purpose is to find general information about Wi-Fi networks performance and security in Oulu center area and report the issues to raise the awareness of Wi-Fi security. Mobile devices do not need to be connected to wireless networks to be tracked. The Wi-Fi signal is transmitted continuously while a phone device tries to search for available networks. Whether discovered wireless devices quantification is indicative of local personnel density is another research question to be answered.

About 65.22% wireless APs have WPA-CCMP encryption standard and 4.2% Wi-Fi have unknown authentication in Oulu. The data showed that the majority of wireless networks in Oulu are secure. Less than 1% networks deployed WEP which has been found severe flaws in authentication method and 10% wireless access points had WPA-TKIP deployed which employed the same underlying mechanism as WEP, therefore it is vulnerable to similar attacks. The amount of insecure networks brings some concerns to the wireless network security state in Oulu.

Wardriving by drone turned out to be a more efficient method to discover wireless networks compared to wardriving on ground by walking or biking. The result also found that wireless device quantification is indicative of local personnel density, as almost everyone nowadays has a smartphone. This finding makes the Pi setup more practically usage, such as searching for lost people in forest. Thus, it becomes one future research direction, to build a real time indicator to show the direction and distance between the Pi setup and a specific wireless network device, based on the detected strength of signal.

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Copyright information: © Yurong Zhao, 2019. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.