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Disable SSID Broadcast on Wireless Access Points and Routers

Improve home network security


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Dimitri Otis/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images
Most wireless access points (APs) and routers automatically transmit their network name (SSID) into open air at regular intervals (every few seconds). This feature of Wi-Fi network protocols is intended to allow clients to dynamically discover and roam between WLANs.

However, this feature also makes it easier for hackers to break into your home network. Because SSIDs are not encrypted or otherwise scrambled, it becomes easy to grab one by snooping the WLAN looking for SSID broadcast messages coming from the router or AP. Knowing your SSID brings hackers one step closer to a successful intrusion.

In a home Wi-Fi network, roaming is largely unnecessary and the SSID broadcast feature serves no useful purpose. You should disable this feature to improve the security of your WLAN. Once your wireless clients are manually configured with the right SSID, they no longer require these broadcast messages.

Note that disabling SSID broadcast is just one of many techniques for tightening security on a Wi-Fi network. This technique is not 100% effective, as hackers can still detect the SSID by sniffing different messages in the Wi-Fi protocol. Still, using techniques like SSID broadcast disable makes it more likely that would-be intruders will bypass your home network seeking easier targets elsewhere.

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