Is Your Wi-Fi Network Name a Security Risk?

Creativity is key for your network name

When your wireless router broadcasts its wireless network name, known formally as a Service Set Identifier (SSID), it's like putting a virtual bumper sticker out in the air around your house or wherever you happen to have your network located. Some people use the default wireless network name set at the factory, while others get creative and use a more memorable name.

Is there such thing as a good wireless network name that would be considered more secure over other names? The answer is most definitely yes. Let's look at what makes a good (secure) wireless network name vs. a bad wireless network name.

What Makes a Bad Wireless Network Name?

A bad wireless network name is any name that was either set at the factory as the default name or is on the list of the Top 1000 Most Common SSIDs.

Why are common names bad? The main reason is that if your network's name is on the Top 1000 Most Common SSIDs, chances are, hackers have the pre-built password-cracking Rainbow Tables needed for cracking your wireless network's Pre-Shared Key (password).

The SSID is one part of the equation needed to build a password cracking table that thieves can use to hack your wireless network. If your SSID is on the list of common ones, then you've saved the hacker the time and resources they would have had to expand on building a custom Rainbow Table if your network name had been unique.

You should also avoid creating a wireless network name containing your last name, your address, or anything personal that might help hackers crack your wireless network password.

Wi-Fi settings in Windows.

A hacker trolling for Wi-Fi networks in your neighborhood who sees "TheWilsonsHouse" as a wireless network name might try the Wilson's dog's name as the password. If Mr. Wilson made the mistake of using his dog's name as the password, the hacker could guess the password correctly.

What Makes a Good Wireless Network Name?

Think of your wireless network name as if it were a password. The more unique it is, the better.

And please make sure that your chosen wireless network name is not on the list of most common ones.

Creative (and Sometimes Hilarious) Wireless Network Names

Sometimes people get a little carried away with their wireless network names. Some examples include:

  • FBI Surveillance Van #3
  • Hey_You_Get_Off_My_LAN
  • Nacho_Wireless

Don't Forget to Make a Strong Wi-Fi Password (Pre-Shared Key)

Besides creating a unique network name, you should also create a strong wireless network password to keep hackers out. Your Wi-Fi network password can be up to 63 characters long, so be creative. Rainbow Tables becomes impractical for cracking passwords longer than about 12-15 characters.

Make your Pre-shared Key as long and random as you can. It may be a pain to enter a long wireless network password, but since most devices cache this password indefinitely, you won't have to enter it that often.

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