By default, your wireless router or mobile WiFi (MiFi) devices broadcast’s your network’s name — also known as service set identifier (SSID) — to all devices within range. This means that anyone (friends, visitors, passersby, strangers, hackers etc.) near your home/router can see that your network is active and subsequently connect to it. And if they don’t have the password, they’d ask you … or hack their way through.
Uninvited (as well as known) access to your WiFi network could leave your network and connected devices prone to some sort of malicious attacks, even if your WiFi is password protected. Hiding your WiFi SSID’s visibility helps add an extra layer of protection to your network and the devices connected to it.
When you hide your network’s SSID, only individuals who have access to your WiFi’s name and password can connect to it. If they know your WiFi’s password but don’t know the name, they cannot access your router’s network. Think of this as “double password security” where users have to input two different parameters before they can successfully connect to your network.
If a network doesn’t broadcast its presence, then devices won’t know about it, and therefore won’t be able to connect.
How to hide your WiFi SSID/name
Irrespective of the router model you use in your home or office, it is relatively easy to hide the network’s name. Simply follow the steps below:
1. Log-in to your router’s admin panel by typing the admin address into your web browser. Some common admin panel addresses include http://192.168.0.1, http://192.168.1.1, http://192.168.8.1 etc.
If you are unsure of how to access your network’s admin panel/management interface, you can check your router’s manual.
2. On your router’s admin panel, navigate to Wireless (WLAN) >> Wireless (WLAN) Basic Settings
3. On the WLAN Basic Settings page, uncheck the SSID Broadcast box or check the Disable option. On some routers, the option could be named Visibility Status.
4. Click Apply and your network’s name will be hidden henceforward. To access the network on any device, you’d be required to enter both the network name and password.
True, hiding your network’s SSID will help prevent unauthorized access from your neighbors. It, however, doesn’t necessarily mean your network is immune to being accessed by hackers. This is because your router has to broadcast a signal through an open channel whenever you visit a website. The signal being transmitted by your router can be detected and intercepted using special tools like WiFi Network scanners/analyzers or WiFi Spoofers. Nonetheless, hiding your WiFi network name hides your WiFi from your neighbors and the average Joe.
Another tip is to avoid leaving the brand name as the default SSID of your router. This is because if a hacker knows the brand name of your router, he/she could easily know how to hack your network or determine the default admin password.
Lastly, make your router’s SSID long and as random as possible. This way, it would be difficult for the average person to guess your network’s SSID or for hackers to use Rainbow Table-based attacks to decrypt your network’s credentials. While doing this, do make sure that the SSID is something you can easily remember.