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The "Wardriving" Scenario

The District Clerk of Harris County, Texas was in for an unexpected surprise. Based on a demonstration by a computer security analyst and upon the recommendation of the head of the county's Central Technology Department, District Clerk Charles Bacarisse shut down the wireless computer network in his office. The computer security analyst had met with the department head and used a laptop computer and a $60–75 wireless card to show him how to tap into Bacarisse's system by "wardriving."

The security flaw in the county's wireless network created a dangerous potential for vandalism—or even more serious problems. Using the practice of wardriving, someone with just an 802.11 device and sniffing software such as NetStumbler could gain access to the county's system and use it as a platform to hack other systems, including those of government agencies and businesses, leaving few traces.

Once tapped into the county system, a hacker could conceivably send emails appearing to come from county officials that could not be traced to the true author. Just as worrisome was the potential for someone to crash county computers, reroute printers, alter or delete records, or post illegal material on one of the county's network computer servers.

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