Many miles were walked during Project Warwalk to collect WiFi SSID data during the summer of 2020 in a neighborhood. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic the whole project started because of the combination of curiosity and having plenty of downtime. From July 14th, 2020 through July 21st, 2020, we collected thousands of data points. While we at first kept the blog posts for this series to a narrow scope such as focusing on the geographic area we were operating in and what our findings meant for you personally, or as a business, we didn’t expect it to fully lead us to things that we eventually wrote about; mass surveillance, facial recognition, the Digital Divide, Warmarketing, and WiFi/digital marketing in general.
We learned some interesting things along the way which we’ll highlight in the summary of each article below, where appropriate, that you can check out. We also want to say that this blog series is complete, however we have some things in the works for the next iteration of Project Warwalk that we’ll announce once we get our plan together.
Without further delay, here are the articles for Project Warwalk and some of the highlights from each blog post with the links to them. Thank you for reading!
Project Warwalk: The Groundwork
This is the article that kicks off the project. We talk about how the project came about, potential errors/biases with the research, and what to expect from the series. We also provide a glossary of terms you can reference as you make your way through the series.
Project Warwalk: It’s All About the Numbers
We consider this the official start of the project by discussing the main data points we collected pertaining to the WiFi network names. After removing duplicate findings, there were 2565 WiFi network names discovered. Of interest is that there were 353 SSIDs that contained personally identifiable information (PII). When we drilled down deeper into those numbers, we discovered that five of these SSIDs were email addresses, which we talk about in a later blog post.
Project Warwalk: Issues With WiFi for Personal Use at Home
With this article we discuss cyber security issues with your WiFi and connectivity issues, in general, because so many people are home now because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Project Warwalk: The COVID-19 Pandemic and Working From Home
This article builds on the previous one as we discuss the issues with working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. We find the discussion of split tunnel VPN an interesting one that businesses may have to deal with.
Project Warwalk: Connected Devices and IoT
This was a fun article where we being to take a deeper dive into the data we collected. For example, barring routers, printers were the most discovered WiFi connected device. How many? You’ll have to read the article. We also discovered some refrigerators. We end this post with issues pertaining to WiFi connected devices/Internet of Things.
Project Warwalk: PII, Social Engineering, and OSINT
There were some interesting finds in this article which talks about how some WiFi network names contained personally identifiable information(PII), how Open Source Intelligence can be used to discover things associated with the SSID, and how malicious actors can exploit this information. From our findings, the second largest naming convention for SSIDs that contain PII is the use of full or partial physical address or location.
Project Warwalk: Warmarketing, Big Data, and Surveillance
This article marks a shift from us looking at the data we collected from WiFi network names to things related to wireless technologies that affect us as a society. In this article we define our term warmarketing and then move the discussion to the impacts of Big Data and mass surveillance of people, which includes the ugly side of Amazon’s Ring system and a company called Clearview.
Project Warwalk: The Digital Divide
This was our last planned article for the Project Warwalk research series. In this post we talk about the Digital Divide and how the COVID-19 pandemic amplified the the struggle for students, and even some teachers, to have adequate access to technology. It’s estimated that there are 15 to 16 million students that don’t have adequate access to the internet and other technology. What we found surprising is that roughly 300,000 to 400,000 teachers across the US also struggle.
In this discussion we also talk about some school systems using school buses as mobile wireless hot spots and raise some questions about the security practices, or lack there of, that some schools have taken for these wireless access points.
We then shift gears back to surveillance and focus specifically on facial recognition and how it contributes to the digital divide.
Thank you for reading. If you would like to contact us to talk about any of these blog posts, have stories to share, or want to send some feed back, contact us using the form below.