How to Disable SSID Broadcast to Hide Your Wi-Fi
If you turned on your device’s Wi-Fi and scanned for nearby networks right now, you will likely see at least one name in the list. The Service Set Identifier (SSID) is a name given to any Wi-Fi network for broadcast and guest connections. The name that appears on your Wi-Fi router is its SSID.
Learn more about SSID and whether you should enable SSID broadcast by following through this blog.
How to Find SSID?
SSID is easily accessible because it’s the basic requirement to access the network on the router that you purchased. Every manufacturer has a different SSID set for its router, which is enabled out-of-the-box. You can find the SSID on the back of the router. There should be a sticker with the name of the SSID and its password. The same should be printed inside the manual that comes in the product’s packaging.
How to Change Your SSID
You can set a custom SSID for your network to give it distinction. SSID supports a max length of 32-bit and alphanumeric characters. Every Wi-Fi router comes with a default SSID, and you must change it for security reasons.
First, you need to find the router’s IP address – also called Default Gateway. You should find the IP address on the router’s back alongside the SSID or the router’s manual.
- Open a web browser and type the IP address in the URL bar. Launch the admin panel of the router.
- Log in using the username and password you can find on the router next to the default gateway.
- Go to the wireless security menu. You should see an option to change the SSID and its password. If you have a dual-band router, you will need to change the SSID for both frequencies (2.4GHz and 5GHz).
- Save your settings.
Your devices will get disconnected from the Wi-Fi network. Connect to the router using the new credentials.
Should You Enable SSID Broadcast?
SSID broadcast simply means keeping the SSID active for wireless-enabled devices to discover and connect. As the name implies, it is a broadcast for a device like laptops and cellphones to receive.
A user with malicious intent can intercept the broadcast. Usually, hackers don’t target home users unless you are on their watchlist. Default SSIDs typically include the manufacturer’s name and the model number that can reveal enough information for a hacker to find vulnerabilities in that particular router.
Routers receive firmware update much after they have been manufactured and shipped to customers. Vulnerabilities might be detected that then get patched as a new firmware update. Most home routers will never be updated as most users are not tech-savvy enough. The least you can do is change the default SSID to a custom name of your choice. It is a good practice that you should avoid revealing information like your name, home address, or the router’s model number in the SSID.
There is a discussion online that hiding the SSID broadcast will protect against hackers. The extent of that is small compared to the inconvenience of manually typing the SSID. Any attacker who is monitoring wireless connections can see the name of the SSID in data packets. Moreover, your device constantly broadcasts a request to reconnect with the last-used SSID, which an attacker can see with wireless monitoring devices. The attacker can create a fake access point with the same SSID and allow you to connect. These hostile access points handle your network traffic; thus, your browsing history and data are easily accessible to the attacker.
Instead of disabling SSID broadcast, disable the auto-reconnect feature that will stop your device from broadcasting known SSIDs.
Use a Strong Password and Encryption
You must change the default SSID and password as soon as you turn on the router for the very first time. Go into your router’s settings and enable WPA2 encryption to protect your connection with the router.
Encryption scrambles data to prevent any third party from intercepting the content of the data packets. WPA2 encryption is a widely implemented standard in modern routers, and more advanced routers use the latest WPA3. It is highly recommended that you switch to WPA2 if the router has anything less enabled by default.
Circling back to where the blog started, there is a high chance that you will discover at least one SSID if you scanned for nearby networks. It speaks about the rampant increase of wireless technologies around us. From streets to malls, wireless networks are everywhere. Yet, public Wi-Fi remains one of the least secure networks on the planet.
Most public Wi-Fi spots are not password-protected, which means communication is not encrypted, and anyone can join the network. Hackers can join such exploitable networks to sniff wireless communication between the connected devices and the access point. Unencrypted communication can reveal your most precious data. While most of the web today uses encryption thanks to HTTPS, a hacker can see what websites you visit or redirect you to malicious websites.
Like router encryption, iProVPN uses AES 256-bit encryption for protecting user data. Connect to any VPN server on public Wi-Fi for peace of mind against such threats.
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