Wireless Network Names–Out of Hiding

Nearly all of you have a Wireless Network Name, also known as an SSID.   If you have a computer and a wireless router, you have the name in question.   Your wireless network name identifies your network so that your other wireless capable devices (ie. iPad, iPhone, Android, laptops, desktops with a wireless card) can connect to them.   Your wireless network can could be as vague as something like  HOME, or it could be your family name, or it could even be something funny like FBI SURVEILLANCE VAN.   You’ll have to admit that the last one is pretty clever.

As a practice and an attempt to offer a bit more security,  people like me used to set up wireless networks with a hidden name.   This means that your neighbors could not easily know your SSID.   This practice was considered security through obscurity.  It wasn’t as good as having a strong WiFi password or a modern router, but it was an added measure.  

Hiding the SSID was a very common practice 3 to 5 years ago.  I have done it personally and for some of you for at least that long.  However, it is is a practice that is falling out of favor.  For the first time, I saw a warning on my iPhone last night.  I looked in the Settings >> WiFi section.   It told me that my network was not as secure as it could be due to the fact that my SSID was hidden.  

So what did I do?  I read about the issue.   Google is your friend.  I compared multiple sources.   I understand now why hiding the SSID is no longer a good idea.  To keep this very simple, the biggest reason is — when you take your wireless device (tablet, phone, laptop) out and connect to other WiFi networks,  those new networks can capture the names of the hidden networks that device has connected to.  YES, REALLY.   It’s kind of a creepy feeling, like leeches on the African Queen.  So I’m not going to hide my SSID / wireless network name anymore and I won’t do it for you either.

What should you do now?  I don’t think this is an urgent situation.  You don’t need to call me to make an immediate appointment.  However, the next time you have me come out it would be a good idea for me to check and make sure your SSID is NOT HIDDEN.    Checking and un-hiding takes 5 minutes or less, so please there is no need to have me come out for this alone.   The lesson here is wireless security is found in having a quality router with the highest security strength and a strong password.