Dec 31, 2008

Wireless AP SSID Cloaking

Remember in Star Trek when the Enterprise was "cloaked" but somehow the Klingons found the ship anyway? Well there is a way to "cloak" your wireless network.

Your SOHO wireless device should have a setting called "Closed Network" or "Broadcast SSID". By either enabling a closed network or disabling the broadcast SSID feature you can hide or cloak your network. The SSID (network name) is transmitted in the air by your device in a broadcast called a "Beacon". Also, many wireless cards client utilities transmit empty "Probe Requests" looking for your device.

There is a very popular and freely available software program called Network Stumbler that is used by individuals to discover wireless networks. Network Stumbler also sends out blank Probe Requests looking for wireless access points.

When you implement a closed network, the SSID is no longer in the BEACON and your wireless gateway will not respond to blank Probe Requests. Effectively, your wireless network is temporarily invisible.

It should be noted that more professional tools can still discover your network because there are other transmissions from your home device that will eventually expose your SSID.

Cloaking is a great way to hide your network, but any experienced hacker will still find the SSID.
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