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Computing (FOLDOC) dictionary
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security Almost certainly a shortened version of "WarGames
dialer", from the film WarGames.
2. A program which attempts to break a password of known
length by iterating thru all possible combinations of
characters that could make up that password.
This approach is not feasable for cracking most passwords
these days. However, as late as the mid-1980s, some
long-distance companies required only very short numeric
access codes (e.g. five digits) to verify the identity of
their customers. Wardialers were created which would, running
unattended, call up long-distance providers' local connect
numbers and iteratively try possible access codes. Codes
which worked were logged for later illicit use.
These wardialers had a high success rate because of the small
range of possibilities to iterate through, e.g. 10000 for a
five digit access code, compared to hundreds of trillions of
combinations for an eight-character alphanumeric code.
Long-distance providers soon required longer passwords and
took advantage of technology for rapidly tracing the phone
numbers that wardialers were being run from, such that running
wardialers became pointless and dangerous.