LAS VEGAS--A group of rocket hobbyists and hackers launched three access points into the sky for a bird's eye view of the wireless landscape, allowing them to detect networks up to 4 miles away and cover more than 50 square miles, the group said on Friday at the DEFCON hacking conference.
The hobbyists equipped three rockets with wireless access points capable of scanning for networks during the rocket's parachute-assisted descent, a technique they dubbed "war rocketing"--a play on "war driving," the technique for scanning wireless networks from a moving car. The largest rocket, which was more than 5 feet tall and weighed in at 18 lbs., accelerated for almost 9 seconds to climb more than 6,800 feet. Of two smaller rockets, one rose to 2,000 feet, while a combination of wind and a weight imbalance caused the other to travel mainly horizontally, leveling off at about 200 feet, according to Ricky Hill, senior scientist for Tenacity Solutions.
While the largest rocket, known as a Nike Smoke, could scan more than 50 square miles of land for wireless networks, the rocket could only be launched in rural areas, where such hardware is rare. Unsurprisingly, the rocket only detected two other networks. The two smaller rockets--one of which was launched in a rural area--found 3 access points in the sparsely populated area and 7 networks in near the college town of Charlottesville, VA.
"These access points were scattered across rural farms that we could not detect from the ground," Hill said.
The rockets were built for less than $1,000 in total, and each launch cost $35 for the smaller rockets and $200 for the larger one.
Posted by: Robert Lemos