Can my Wireless Network Name Affect My Security

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William Iven/

What’s in a name? If it’s your wireless network name, a lot. You might not think much of it but your wireless network name can be nearly as big of a security issue as your wireless network password.

Most of us don’t really give our wireless network name a lot of thought. Many older routers don’t give it much of a thought either. In the past, router manufacturers had default network names that were the same across all routers.

This situation made the task of cracking the passwords of networks with default network names easier for hackers. How? Hackers could use rainbow tables that were precomputed with the network name to crack the password faster since the network name was already known.

Check out our article on Rainbow Tables to learn more about rainbow table-based attacks.

What Makes a Network Name Secure?

Much like a network password, the more random and complex your wireless network name (SSID) the better for preventing attacks that rely on default network names.

Thankfully, many newer routers feature unique network names out of the box. They might be based on the router’s MAC address, their serial number, or some completely random number.

You should check the list of Most Common SSIDs to make sure that you’re network name isn’t on this list. If it is, chances are good that someone has already produced the precomputed rainbow table to help with hacking your network password (pre-shared key).

You might think your funny network name is clever and unique, but it might not be. Check the list and make sure it’s not one of the top 1000 network names

Is My Network Name Unique Enough?

After you’ve tested your network name against the list of most common network names and determined that its not on the list, you can begin crafting your new network name.

Generally, as it goes with passwords, the longer the network name the better.  

What Names Should I Avoid?

You should avoid any network name that might give away information about who owns the network. For instance, don’t call your network "TheRobinsonsWireless" because that tells everyone scanning for networks who it belongs to. This could aid hackers in discovering the password, help with identity theft scams, etc. Seems like innocent info, but it can reveal information that, coupled with other information, could end up a security risk.

Also avoid names that include address information, telephone numbers, etc  for the same reason mentioned above.

The Biggest Wireless Naming No-No’s

Don’t Give the Password Out in The Network Name

While this seems like common sense. There are people out there that will actually give out the network password by making it the network name. For example, they might make the network name “PasswordIsNayNay”. Convenient for them, but also makes it super easy for network leeches and hackers as well.

Don’t Ever Make the Network Password The Same as or Close to The Network Name

Again, not rocket science here, but important. Don’t make your password anything close to the network name. Use a strong password and make it completely random. You don’t need to do anything to help hackers or freeloaders. The easier you make it for them, the less bandwidth you’ll have for your own use and the higher the odds that your network will be hacked.

Don’t Make Threatening Network Names or Names That Might Offend Others

Some people like to get all cutesy with their network names, going so far as to using them like a virtual yard sign saying things like “JohnSmithIsAnIdiot” or something else. This can only create strife and, depending on how mentally unstable someone is, it could create a dangerous situation. If the network name is threatening in any way, the owner might end up getting in trouble with the law. Bottom line: choose a tasteful network name that won’t result in the cops getting called on you.