What’s a Network Detector?

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A network finder detects wireless networks nearby, used by laptop users and hackers. Hardware detectors emit lights to indicate active networks, while software programs scan for available networks. Wardriving is a form of wireless hacking, and advanced equipment can detect hidden networks. Unauthorized access to private networks is illegal.

A network finder is a piece of hardware or software program designed to help you discover wireless networks in your vicinity. Laptop users access network detectors whenever they search for a new wireless connection to the Internet, but network detectors can also be used by hackers. Advanced network detectors are tools used in a practice called wardriving, part of which includes discovering wireless internet connections by driving around town and detecting them. A network detector may also be called a network sniffer, and network detector software is sometimes called network discovery software.

Hardware network detectors are self-contained devices dedicated for the purpose of detecting nearby networks. They are usually portable devices that work without the aid of a computer. When activated, a network detector emits a series of lights designed to let the user know if there is an active wireless network in operation nearby. One advantage of hardware network detectors is that they tend to take up less space than a laptop. Although advanced hardware network detectors may offer more functionality than a computer-based network connector, basic network detectors do not always indicate whether the user can access the Internet through the available connection.

Network discovery software programs provide the user with the ability to scan for available networks without a separate hardware device. Standard wireless network cards generally come with their own network finder to allow the user of a wireless card to discover nearby wireless networks. This type of network detector will typically tell the user what network connections exist within the geographic area and will usually indicate if the connection is open and offers a path to the internet.

Wardriving is a form of wireless hacking. Users who broadcast a wireless network connection for personal use can implement security measures to prevent wireless hackers from discovering or accessing their wireless Internet connection. Methods for protecting a wireless network from unauthorized access include passwords and connection restrictions. Network intrusion detectors can tell a network administrator when the network has been compromised by an unauthorized party by using hardware or software network detectors to sniff out the network.

Advanced network discovery software isn’t necessary for the average user, but it can help a wireless networking enthusiast discover otherwise hidden nearby networks. A basic network detector in a wireless card may not be able to detect a network that is not broadcasting its service set identifier (SSID), but advanced wardriving equipment can detect other identifiers broadcast by the network. Local laws may prohibit this. Unauthorized access to a private network is a crime in some areas, particularly if done using hacking equipment or software.

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