Disabling SSID broadcast on your wireless router is an option, but before you do so, you should be aware of the potential security risks. True, the network’s name won’t appear in a conventional wireless network adapter’s list of accessible networks if the SSID broadcast is turned off.
However, this does not protect the confidentiality of the network. Anyone with the correct equipment or software can “see” your network and log in with a valid username and password.
This article explains how SSID broadcasting works, how unauthorized users can still connect to your “hidden” network, how you can disable SSID broadcast Netgear, and how you can stop SSID broadcasts from happening on your router. If you’re only interested in learning how to prevent SSID broadcasts, that information may be found at the bottom of the post.
The Function of a Router’s SSID
Nearly all wireless routers are preconfigured to broadcast the network’s name when first powered on. The SSID is short for “Service Set Identifier.”
Standard wireless adapters and their corresponding software will discover and display the names of all nearby networks by service set identifier (SSID).
If SSID broadcast is turned off for any of these networks, the wireless adapter won’t be able to connect to them.
If the router is configured so that the network identified as Netgear61-5G in the preceding example stops broadcasting its SSID, the web will no longer be visible during network discovery.
When you turn off SSID broadcast, the network’s name becomes “NULL,” so it won’t appear in any search results for available networks.
This does not render the network unreachable but prevents the identity from being broadcast.
Stop here and read our instructions on stopping someone else from using your Wi-Fi network if that’s what you want to do.
To What Extent Can Users Locate Wireless Networks Where the SSID Has Been Disabled
According to the 802.11 standards, the wireless router must broadcast “management beacon packets” that describe the network’s configuration. Routers broadcast this whether or not they send a network’s SSID.
Anybody can obtain free or paid software that not only detects Wi-Fi networks but also readily identifies the SSID, even if they have no SSID.
Instead of using SSIDs, the software can “see” the management packets and determine which networks are open. It can join a network in two ways: by initiating a connection to find the network’s SSID or by intercepting data meant for other clients. The SSID name is still transmitted in answers from a grid set to disabling SSID on the Netgear router.
One way to prevent packets from intercepting without permission is Wi-Fi encryption.
It’s important to remember that the capabilities of various monitoring tools vary. NetSpot is a free piece of software that can detect the presence of neighboring “hidden” networks.
Networks not publicly broadcasting their SSID will appear in the app’s initial list of available connections. The SSID field will have Hidden SSID next to it to denote them.
Other similar free programs go even further. You can not only discover and join previously unseen networks but also view and analyze their traffic in detail.
Even if you don’t know the SSID, you can still attempt to join the network by using the password.
In addition to these, the following programs allow users to detect wireless networks for which the SSID is not being broadcast:
- Fiber optics in acrylic (Paid)
- Wi-Fi Communication Oversight Window
Router SSID Broadcast Disabling Guide
There are only a few clicks of the mouse away from turning off SSID broadcast on your router. You’ll need to know your router’s admin password to access its settings.
A network router’s IP address can be found by opening a command prompt in Windows and using the command ipconfig/all.
The Default Gateway IP address will be near the bottom of the results list.
Launch your preferred web browser, enter the IP address (in this case, 192.168.0.1), and hit the Enter key. You will be sent to its login screen to use the router’s administrative features.
A router’s default admin password is always available if you’ve never changed it.
Stop Communicating SSID to Other Routers
This is because each router has its unique process for doing this. If you have a different router but want to replicate these instructions, use the information for your specific router.
For Linksys, go to the menu and choose Wireless, then Basic Wireless Settings. Do not broadcast the SSID anymore. This applies to both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.
D-menus links can be navigated to reach “Setup” and “Wireless Settings.” Then, go to Settings > Connections > Wireless > Manual Setup > Invisible. You can also use the option to Enable Hidden Wireless if you choose. Once you’ve made your desired adjustments, click the Save Settings button to apply them. If using an older D-Link router, go to the router’s wireless settings and disable the SSID broadcast Netgear router.
If you have a Belkin, go to Wireless on the left side of the screen and then to Channel and SSID. Turn off the broadcast SSID by unchecking the box.
If you don’t see your router model below or are having trouble following the instructions, please refer to your router’s user manual. The manufacturer has likely made the manual available for download on their website.