War dialing is scanning a range of telephones (ex. 555-555-xxxx) to find all sorts of stuff, like fax machines, carriers, and BBSes (remember this was a loooong time ago)!
Joe: Hey, I was war dialing our area code and found a hacking BBS!
Bob: Sweet! What's the number?
Using a computer to dial telephone numbers within a given range, usually with the intention of finding a modem carrier signal. The practice largely predated the widespread penetration of broadband Internet connectivity; at the time, many businesses, agencies, and individuals operated computer systems "on-demand" through telephone-based modems, each of which might (or might not) offer a unique (and possibly privileged) selection of information, as well as possibly offering access to powerful hardware or a platform for reaching other networks and systems. Usually, the wardialer
would be covertly planted on a public, shared, or corporate phone line, left to operate for a limited time, then retrieved so that any "positives" (phone lines returning a modem carrier signal) could be investigated later from yet another location. The practice often went hand-in-hand with phreaking
, for obvious reasons.
Today, some telemarketing and social research firms use similar programs (usually working from a digital phone book) to reach residential numbers in search of sales or social information. Also, on rare occasions, people engaged in social engineering
have used a form of this process to explore "gaps" in corporate phone listings to discover (and identify the owners of) unlisted numbers.
This term directly inspired t...
Using a port scanner to find vulnerable computer systems.
"I was war dialing the school's network and found a backdoor, so I gave myself strait A's."
Used mostly in the '80s and '90s: having your computer repeatedly dial a number to try and get into a limited-space modem pool immediately after another user hangs up.
An identical technique was sometimes used to get the first call for prizes in radio "call-in" shows, thus leading to the adoption of random "fifth caller," "seventeenth caller" etc. by radio stations to circumvent this practice.
"Dude, AOL was so busy last nite i was wardialing!!!1!!" or: "WKRX still gives the prize to the first caller, so I wardialied it all yesterday and got this sweet CD".