Some users try to hide their WiFi network as part of their wireless security. Hiding your WiFi network effectively cuts it off from people who don’t know the SSID – or at least, that’s the theory. In truth, this technique has flaws, but it’s easy enough to execute.
A Quick SSID Intro
The SSID (Service Set Identifier) of a router is the name that it broadcasts to identify itself. This is a feature you’ve already used if you have ever connected to a wireless network, and it helps users separate the many different signals riding the airwaves. When you visit a coffee shop with free WiFi, for example, you usually know the right network to connect to because it is labeled with the shop’s name.
SSIDs are broadcasted voluntarily, however. Every router broadcasts one by default, but the option can be turned off. When you turn off SSID broadcast, others won’t be able to pick up the broadcast of your wireless network and they won’t know to whom the network belongs to.
The Limitations Of SSID Hiding
At least, that’s the theory. The problem with SSID hiding is that hiding wireless signals is impossible. SSID or not, your router is still broadcasting radio waves in all directions, which means that those waves can be intercepted. They won’t have an SSID attached to them, but there are other ways to separate wireless networks.
This means that hiding your SSID won’t hide your wi-fi network from someone using a WiFi network scanner. Anyone who is going to try and crack a wireless network will be using one of those anyway, so the utility of hiding an SSID is fairly limited.
How To Hide Your SSID
If you’re still interested in hiding your SSID, I have good news – the process of doing so is quite simple.
First, you’ll need to log onto your router. This is done by entering the local IP address of your router into your web browser – in most cases, this is 192.168.0.1. You’ll be presented with a login page prompting you with a username and password. Hopefully you will have customized this, but if not, refer to your router’s manual for the default information.
Once you’re in, navigate to your router’s wireless settings page, find the SSID broadcast option (usually a checkbox) and uncheck it. Then, save your new settings. It’s that easy. Just make sure you know your SSID, because you’ll need to have that information if you want to connect – if you’re not using a WiFi sniffer, at least.
I’ve already said that hiding your SSID isn’t really a method of improving your security, but I want to stress that point. Many people want to know how to hide their SSID, and I can only assume they would want to do so under the assumption that it will make them more secure.
Wireless just doesn’t work that way. The only protection this offers is against an uninformed user who is trying to find a specific network, perhaps as a means of identifying where a person lives, or trying to guess the network’s password (you do have a secure password, right?).