If you’re one to tinker with your router setup, you might notice an option that allows you to hide your Wi-Fi network name.
A Wi-Fi network name (SSID) is important in letting you know which wireless networks are available in your vicinity. But in the same way, your Wi-Fi name is public to many, including guests in your home and neighboring networks.
This leads to the question: Does hiding your Wi-Fi name make your network safer? It sounds like a good move to hide your SSID—but is it?
This might come as a surprise, but hiding your Wi-Fi name won’t make your network safer—and will probably do more harm than good.
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What does hiding your Wi-Fi network name do?
Your Wi-Fi network name is broadcast by your router so that devices can find it and get connected effortlessly with a password. Your router, by default, is set to broadcast its network name.
Hiding your Wi-Fi network name simply means disabling the router’s broadcast feature. However, this only hides the name from showing up on a device’s network list. Your network is still there—easily detectable by hackers using other common tools.
Reasons you don’t have to hide your Wi-Fi network name
Hiding your Wi-Fi name doesn’t make your network any less vulnerable to hackers—and it certainly won’t outweigh the hassle of having to manually set up a connection to your hidden network.
1. It won’t hide your IP address and online activity
Hiding your network name won’t encrypt your online activity and IP address. Your browsing history—together with your IP address—are still visible to your internet service provider as well as other third parties.
2. Third-party tools can trace your network even when hidden
Anyone can use free apps to look up your network even if it’s hidden in just seconds.
These tools may even work in the favor of hackers by labeling hidden networks. Your hidden network will attract unwanted attention from hackers who may think there’s something valuable to be found, leading your strategy to backfire.
3. It’s inconvenient to connect to a hidden network
When a Wi-Fi network isn’t hidden, you can simply find it, select it on your device, type in the password—then get connected.
If you hide your Wi-Fi network, it no longer appears on the network list on your device. To connect to the network, you’ll have to manually type in your network info—network name, security type, encryption type, and password—on your device.
Ways to protect your Wi-Fi network
Hiding your network name will do little to protect your network. The good news is, there’s much more you can do instead to keep your network safe.
Change your default network name and password
The default name of your Wi-Fi network is likely to be your router brand (followed by some numbers), giving away certain information about your network to hackers. Any network that goes by their default name could also hint at a lack of privacy awareness, making you an easy target. So it’s a good idea to change your Wi-Fi name, ideally to something that won’t identify you as the user. Needless to say, changing your network password is equally important.
Not sure how to change your default network name and password? All you have to do is go into your router’s settings. Check out these guides from Netgear and Linksys. When in doubt, contact your router’s manufacturer.
Change your router’s default password
Your router’s admin interface allows you to control your network settings with a password, like “admin.” Although it’s meant to be easy to remember, it also leaves you to take an extra step to change it. If it remains unchanged, anyone who comes within the signal range of your router can easily sign in to it to do different things—from locking you out of the router with a new password to hijacking your network.
Use a VPN on your router
A VPN encrypts the traffic between your device and the internet so that it’s safe from your internet service provider, hackers, and governments. A VPN on your router works in the same way—only it protects the traffic of the whole network (all your devices connected to the router).