war driving
n. A computer cracking technique that involves driving through a neighborhood with a wireless-enabled notebook computer and mapping houses and businesses that have wireless access points.
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Do tech managers know where all their wireless LAN access points (AP) are? Since they can be plugged into a LAN and stashed almost anywhere, even by users, they can be a challenge to manage internally. Meanwhile, strangers can be discovering them be "war driving," cruising around with a wireless-enabled laptop seeking wireless LANs that can be entered and explored.
—“IBM Tool Targets Wireless 'War Driving',” e-Business Advisor, August 01, 2002
2000 (earliest)
Wireless technology sets data free from the physical confines of wire — which also means that controlling who receives the data is problematic. Peter Shipley, the director of labs at OneSecure, told me about his new hobby of driving around Silicon Valley and picking up networks on his laptop. War driving is replacing war dialing in the wireless age.
—Carole Fennelly, Unix Insider, December 01, 2000
War driving (brought to my attention by Wired magazine's Gareth Branwyn, with thanks) is a play on the older term war dialing, "automatically calling thousands of telephone numbers to look for any that have a modem attached." War dialing, in turn, comes from the 1983 movie "War Games," now a classic in computer cracking circles. In the movie a young cracker (Matthew Broderick) is using war dialing to look for games and bulletin board systems. However, he inadvertently ends up with a direct connection to a high-level military computer that gives him control over the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Various things hit the fan after that.