wigle.net: Finding WiFi

wigle.net: Finding WiFi

What is This Thing For?

We consolidate location and information of wireless networks world-wide to a central database, and have user-friendly desktop and web applications that can map, query and update the database via the web.

We currently accept files in any of:

To have your record removed from our database, or if you have any questions or suggestions, send an email to: WiGLE-admin[at]WiGLE.net or irc chat on at wigle.net:6667. If you want a record removed from the database, please include the BSSID (Mac Address) of the network in question!

Who are you people?

  • arkasha focuses on front-end stuff as well as serving as cruise activities directory
  • bobzilla is the guy who designed the DB, makes everything work, wrote the Android client, and continues to keep this project going
  • uhtu fixes all the things that arkasha and bobzilla do wrong
  • thuddwhir wrote the vector-based map generation (SquiGLE)
  • wos wrote the Mac OSX native client (TinGLE)

All are members of Mimezine.

How does triangulation work?

The “triangulation” is actually just an average of the latitudes and longitudes gathered using the signal strength (squared) as a weight. This is probably more correctly called “weighted-centroid trilateration.” This assumes that signal strength will change at the inverse square of the distance. This is reasonable as long is you don’t get a one-sided view of the network (i.e. only sample it from one side) since it will be skewed in that direction.

How do I Get Started?

WiGLE.net is a submission-based catalog of wireless networks. Submissions are not paired with actual people; rather name/password identities which people use to associate their data. It’s basically a “gee isn’t this neat” engine for learning about the spread of wireless computer usage.

WiGLE concerns itself with 802.11a/b/g/n and cellular networks right now, which can be collected via the WiGLE WiFi Wardriving tool on android. We also have a bluetooth stumbling client for Android, but we do not maintain a catalog of bluetooth networks.

The first step in using WiGLE is to create a username for yourself. You don’t have to submit anything other than a made-up email, username and password, validation is immediate, and we will not contact you (unless you wanna chat on our message boards). This will give you access to our query engine and software downloads.

Once you’ve signed up, you’re free to send us wireless network traces (in any of our listed formats, usually pairings of wireless sample, names and network hardware addresses (for uniqueness), data/SNR triples and GPS coordinates) or enter networks manually. Note, your username gets “credit” for these, but of course some people don’t want their networks listed (various reasons), so we delist these immediately upon request. Once you make a User Name, you can look at the submissions statistics page to see how users stack up.

The easiest way to start stumbling is to use our Android tools, available at:
Android app on Google Play or  (or search for “wiglewifi” on an Android device)

To view networks, you can 1.) ask the website, 2.) download the java client. The clients are particularly fun to look at, but require either a java-1.6-and-up machine (windows, sunOS, MacOS-X, linux, mostly) or a windows box, for the new windows-native prototype. This will superimpose “points” from a live query onto a map of an area. Maps can be downloaded in “packs” from our mapping engine and are installed simply by unzipping them into your client installation directory. Mappacks are created and served by-state-by-county, or in the case of large cities, by-state-by-city. If we haven’t generated a map for your area of interest yet, ask for it, and come back after the rendering engine’s had a minute or 5 to think about it.

If your network is in WiGLE and you don’t like it, we’ll take it out immediately, but you should look into making your network harder to detect AND more secure; remember that you’re the one bombarding passers-by with your signal. We aren’t affiliated directly with any particular community or interest (other than our own), but we applaud the efforts of the people who wrote the stumbling software that feeds our project, the people looking to use wireless in innovative ways, and especially the community of people who just dig wireless network access and dig sharing it. (freenets)

What has this project been used for?

Overall, WiGLE aims to show people about wireless in a more-technical capacity then your average static map or newspaper article.

Educating the Public: When WiGLE started in 2001 the default for wifi was to have no encryption at all. An end user had a choice to turn on weak encryption (40-bit WEP), or pay extra for slightly less weak encryption (128-bit WEP). Most users didn’t realize that their private networks could be accessed by anyone in the area (at various distances with antennas and amplifiers). WiGLE, and Wardriving in general, helped to educate users and put pressure on manufacturers to make network security better and easier. Now a days WPA2 is the standard and defaults to “on” for most manufactured devices.

Research Projects: We are often contacted by graduate students and professors to provide additional access or slices of data for research projects around wifi and security, which we attempt to help in any way we can. We’ve heard of research into subjects like WEP/WPA encryption distribution, information leaks from SSID probes, teaching wireless security concepts, geolocation from BSSID’s and more.

Site Surveys: Security professionals use WiGLE to monitor what businesses they consult for are broadcasting over wifi radios. If you have an insecure network you are vulnerable, whether or not it appears in WiGLE. But WiGLE could let you know that an employee or attacker has set up a rogue wifi router on your private network.

Journalism: WiGLE is a handy resource for journalists looking for data points on Wifi proliferation, statistics and security. WiGLEkeeps statistics on manufacturer distribution, top SSID’s, encryption modes, channel selection, geographic distribution and much more.

Finding Useable Networks: Using the “Free Net” search WiGLE users can find legal-to-use open networks near to their current location. They can also find local government open wireless networks, a cable company wireless offering that they are already paying for, or a local coffee shop that has a network available for use.

A Fun Hobby: Many users enjoy trying to detect as many networks as possible, to compete on the leaderboard and see parts of their city/town that they’ve had no reason to visit before. Teams can compete to see which car can find the most networks in a set amount of time.

What’s the License for All This?

The official legal End User License Agreement. We basically just offer no warranties on our software, and don’t want our software to be used for unlicensed commercial gain.

Commercial Use

To help fund WiGLE operations, we offer licenses to a subset of the data derived from postings that our users have permitted us to use for commercial purposes. As a matter of policy, we will not comment on future, past, or hypothetical customers. To discuss a commercial license, please email us at WiGLE-admin[at]WiGLE.net

We additionally refuse to claim or disclaim any involvement with the alleged moon landings, area 51 and ‘bigfoot’.

Why Don’t You Offer Non US Maps for the Java Client?

We’d love to offer world-wide, street-level mapping information, but there’s nothing free for our use. WiGLE relies on the TIGER and VMAP0 mapping data sets for our current maps, which allows us to produce our maps without intellectual property entanglement or licensing fees. We’re certainly interested in hearing from you about candidate datasets which we can use under similar terms, but we’re not necessarily going to write a new parser for each country/city/neighborhood in the world. See The forums for an up-to-date status on our search and instructions for composing your own raster mappacks. We’d urge you to consider contributing to Open Street Map, and if anyone has a tutorial on how to build mappacks from OSM tiles, let us know!

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