Basically the guy (allegedly) drove around LA with a laptop looking for insecure wireless networks, then connected to them and sent spam using people’s home accounts.
The term comes from wardriving — driving around looking for unsecured networks — and warchalking — marking walls or sidewalks to indicate the presence, type and speed of the networks found. Early wardrivers discovered that Pringles cans make good amplifiers.
Further etymology: according to the Jargon File, war-driving is a play on war dialer. War dialers were programs that would call up a series of phone numbers looking for modems, faxes, or other phone-based systems it might be able to crack into. And that term started out as wargames dialer, a reference to the film War Games. (Whew!)
It turns out that warspamming is older than I thought: the term was coined two years ago, though this is the first case to go to trial. The
scumbag is being tried under CAN-SPAM, which went into effect this past January.
An interesting statement from the article:
If Tombros is convicted or pleads guilty then warspamming — also known as drive-by spamming — will move from being just a theoretical possibility to a genuine threat.
What, so in the two years since someone came up with the idea, no one has ever seen it done? And we have to wait for a conviction to determine whether it’s happened now? We don’t need to wait for a trial to know that spammers — an annoyingly resourceful lot — are using thousands of virus- and spyware-infested home computers as zombies. Warspamming doesn’t even require programming skills (or ties to virus writers — although I understand access to already-compromised networks has become a brisk business on the black market.) Surely someone has logs to show that it’s been done.