WiFi Network Names
Seem like a trivial concern, but they’re anything but.
The name of a WiFi network – the SSID – is an important part of its security profile, especially given that the standard WPA2 security algorithm uses the SSID as a (Password Hashing Salt) salt for the network security key.
So, let’s cover a few quick points on how and why to choose the name of your home or office networks.
1. Don’t use common WiFi network names
The WPA2 algorithm works because the SSID can be treated as essentially random data; using a salt that’s known to third-parties massively weakens any encryption algorithm.
Precomputed tables exist for retrieving keys corresponding to many of the top 1000 SSIDs as logged on pages like this (https://wigle.net/gps/gps/main/ssidstats); if you change your SSID from the router’s default and ensure that it’s not on that list, you can ensure that your network remains well-secured.
2. Be descriptive or memorable
Yes, your SSID is part of your network’s security, but it’s still a name, too; you should ensure that neither you nor your guests are likely to forget which network is your own.
3. Don’t worry about broadcasting your SSID.
You can just name the network after yourself or your family name, or you can do something more esoteric; the important thing is that anyone you want to use your WiFi network name should be able to tell at a glance which one that is.
Your router should contain a setting to disable SSID broadcasting and force anyone who wants to connect to your network to input its name manually.
Don’t bother with it; it’s trivial for a resourceful ne’er-do-well to find a network that’s not broadcasting its SSID, and having to put it in manually makes your life a lot harder. Frankly, it’s not worth the effort.
4. Change WiFi network names every so often
Regularly changing your SSID and WPA2 key can help you to keep your network secure, by eliminating the threat posed by anyone who might have gleamed something that they shouldn’t have.
Exactly how often you want do do this is up to you; it doesn’t need to be a common thing, just an occasional operation.
You’ll make a bit of work for yourself, true, but changing some router settings and reconfiguring your wireless devices doesn’t take much time; avoiding the pain that a security breach can bring is worth it.
Above all else, just remember that your network’s name is both a handy identifier and an important part of its security; you need to make sure that it’s a good choice for both roles.