Beware of sensationalized histories, including this one. To “hack” is simply to find new ways of doing things. Hackers are no more intrinsically sociopathic than, say, SEO professionals or corporate bloggers.
I was born bad. My other gift is timing. I initially denied both, dreaming instead of a career in paleontology. But childhood’s good intentions eventually dissolved in a sea of hormones topped with thick whorls of cigarette smoke. Adolescence found me playing drums in rock bands and getting away with all kinds of mischief, often fleeing the scene of this outhouse-tipping or that temple desecration minutes–even seconds–before the relevant authority figures descended on my hapless cohorts. Solo capers, I almost always got away with. Even after miraculously becoming a serious, law-abiding grownup at the crack of midnight on my 21st birthday, I kept one foot–or two, usually accompanied by arms, body, and head (eyes shut, natch)–in the dark side’s door, to reap the many health benefits transgression’s cool, black air confers on souls brave enough to taste it. Every now and then I peek inside–strictly for academic reasons.
People say I’m no good, and they’re right. Seeing this movie at the tender age of seven made me worse than most Americans can imagine.
So it is with AirPort. While open wireless networks abound in downtown Minneapolis, the occasional sojourn in the hinterlands finds me out of range and luck, the few possible options password-protected for my inconvenience. I’m never all that desperate for a connection, and have no problem understanding why so many hard-working Minnesotans elect to keep their packet streams safe from rascals prone to checking mail and/or downloading bomb-making instructions on any available victim’s flat-rate dime.
The hardest part of hacking WEP with Kismac is finding a WEP-protected network.
My wicked side isn’t so easily satisfied. “What if you absolutely needed to get online?” it asks. “Or not even you, but someone else altogether? Your sister? Or Jesus? And what about the allegedly secure networks you rely on? Wouldn’t it be great to have a handle on their vulnerable aspects, all the better to help protect them from evil hackers bent on securing that most un-American thing of all: a free ride.”
Beware! Even brawny WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) is vulnerable to a panoply of attack strategies.
Luckily for my conscience, the very forces of nature themselves make stowing away on most password-protected networks an Everest-grade challenge for Apple users. Only the fast-fading WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacv) cracks easily with the tools currently available to us. Still, it’s good to have at least a nodding acquaintance with the few available Mac utilities, if only to sharpen our attack analysis skills. As for all the Windows, Linux, and Unix-based goodies, just looking almost never hurts anybody. Below, you’ll find links to seven free utilities, all designed to help innocent citizens unknowingly give and/or avoid giving unscrupulous scoundrels piggyback rides. As for actually learning to use them, that’s all between you and your clergyperson–unless he or she knows some undocumented Mac hack, in which case all we can say is “don’t hide it; divide it.” 1. Kismac No wonder this wireless stumbler-plus is outlawed in its native Germany! It’s fun to just watch. 2. Nmap Extremely powerful open-source, multiple-platform network scanner, rated number one by Darknet.org.uk. 3. ASLEAP Cracks LEAP passwords like peanut shells. 4. John the Ripper Rapid-fire password cracker for UNIX, DOS, BeOS, Windows, and Open VMS. 5. Wireshark A handy troubleshooting tool/network sniffer no matter what color your hat is. 6. Aircrack A WEP cracker so effective, some unknown agency (Communists? terrorists? France’s government?) took its site down. You’ll find a mirror here. (Act now!) 7. Cain & Abel The Swiss Army Knife of password recovery tools.