Last Updated on April 23, 2017 by Dave Farquhar
This weekend Lifehacker advised against using things like your name and address as your wifi network name or SSID–if you’re targeted for attack, it makes you that much easier to find when your wifi name is your name or address.
When I set up a wifi network, I usually set the name to the time of day. That way the network name ends up just being a meaningless, useless number, with no clues as to who owns it, or who the broadband provider is. Clever names draw attention, and you don’t want to draw attention.
Let’s talk about two other common security measures that you probably shouldn’t do.
Hiding your network name does little to stop an attacker–someone sniffing the airwaves will still see the network name–and could draw attention to you instead. It makes your computers less secure when you’re on other networks. Mostly it will make life more difficult for you and your computers–in my experience hiding the network name is a good way to reduce your range–so it’s better to leave it enabled.
MAC address filtering is another example of something that makes life much more difficult for you than for an attacker. The permitted MAC addresses are visible in the network traffic, so all the attacker has to do is spoof a good address to get on. In corporate environments, steps like this are valuable–but corporate environments have systems a home network won’t to detect that kind of activity going on. So all this step really accomplishes is making your life more difficult any time you buy a new device, or someone comes over and wants to get on your wifi.
These steps will make an unsophisticated attacker’s job more difficult, but enabling WPA2 with AES and a hard-to-guess password will do that job just as well, without making your life more difficult.
David Farquhar is a computer security professional, entrepreneur, and author. He started his career as a part-time computer technician in 1994, worked his way up to system administrator by 1997, and has specialized in vulnerability management since 2013. He invests in real estate on the side and his hobbies include O gauge trains, baseball cards, and retro computers and video games. A University of Missouri graduate, he holds CISSP and Security+ certifications. He lives in St. Louis with his family.