What Does Warchalking Mean?

Warchalking refers to drawing symbols in public spaces to denote an open Wi-Fi wireless network in a public space.


Warchalking provides information about the type of wireless connection being used, which may be open node, closed node or wired equivalent privacy (WEP) node. This may attract hackers and make them aware of the Wi-Fi hot spot and its security. Hackers may use this information to attack the Wi-Fi network.

Techopedia Explains Warchalking

After finding a Wi-Fi node, warchalkers use a piece of chalk to draw symbols on walls, lamp posts, pavement or anything nearby to advertise the availability of Wi-Fi. Influenced by old hobo symbols, warchalking was initially invented by a group of friends in 2002.

Later, warchalking was more formally identified by Matt Jones, who designed the set of icons. Jones actually published a downloadable version of the icons, which was distributed by the media. Countless articles about warchalking were published. Soon, malicious warchalking alerts became nearly obsolete, or at least their mention on the Internet became obsolete. However, today some merchants with Wi-Fi capabilities may use the icons to advertise the available options for their customers.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…