Ask Leo: Should You Disable the Broadcast of Your Wireless SSID ?

SSID

By Leo Notenboom

Does changing or disabling the broadcast of my wireless SSID make me more secure?

The Question:I always hear “CHANGE THE SSID” on your home router. There are two parts to the SSID, correct? The network name and the network password to connect. I realize that the password needs to be changed from the default of admin or whatever, but are people still suggesting that the SSID network name be changed as well? I can see changing the network name to something other than “Linksys” so that you know that it’s yours, but why does it matter if others can see this name? All that matters is changing the SSID password, correct?

Leo’s Response:

Well, to begin with, a couple of concepts have gotten confused in your question.

There’s no such thing as an “SSID password”. The SSID is simply the identifier that a Wifi access point can broadcast to let you know that it exists.

The SSID can be changed, and there are good reasons to do so. Broadcasting the SSID can also be disabled, but whether that actually helps anything is debatable.

And finally, this isn’t really a router thing because there are routers that have no wireless capabilities and thus, they have no SSID to worry about. This is really a wireless access point thing – whether that access point is a separate device or combined with a router in a single package.

That password thing

Even though it’s completely unrelated to the SSID, let’s first deal with the password issue.

As outlined in How do I secure my router?, there are actually two passwords that you need to concern yourself with:

  • The password used to gain administrative access to the router’s configuration
  • The password used as part of WPA encryption used to secure your wireless connections
  • You should change the first one from its default. Otherwise, anyone with access to your network can reconfigure your router. I have heard of malware that can do exactly that if you leave the password unchanged.

    You should add the second – WPA encryption – if you have not. Otherwise, anyone within range can possibly “listen in” on your wireless data.

    But neither really have anything to do with SSID.

    Article Continued Here:

    This post is excerpted with Leo’s permission from his blog.

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