Windows XP Professional SP3 up-to-date
Dell Wireless 1490 Dual Band WLAN Mini-Card, latest driver from Dell
Broadcom Advanced Control Suite 2
I'm a wifi security noobie who has read that it's a bad idea to broadcast your SSID. I don't have a wireless router; this question is about not broadcasting my laptop SSID while at a wifi hotspot. I don't use wifi at home and keep my wireless radio off except at wifi hotspots. (Fn+F2)
I've looked at the Microsoft Network Connection properties dialog for my wifi card and at the Broadcom wireless utility, but I don't see where the option is to turn off the broadcasting of my laptop's SSID. Can anyone tell me how to use a wireless access point at a wifi hotspot without broadcasting my laptop's SSID?
What I do now for security at wifi hotspots is use the program Hotspot Shield, which is a free, ad-burdened VPN with an exit node in the US. Still, I don't go to any web site where I have to login with a password or do any shopping or banking via wifi.
Thanks to all who reply.
The SSID is broadcast by the router. You can not turn it off. If you had a router in your home you could turn it off by accessing the web gui of the router. At WIFI spots it is set to broadcast to make it easy for people to connect.
I don't want to affect the router. I want to keep other people out of my laptop when I'm using a wifi hotspot. As I said, I'm new to wifi security.
What I understand from your post is that PC wireless cards don't have SSIDs; only routers and access points do. So how do people get hacked at wifi hotspots? That's what I want to avoid. Is using Hotspot Shield enough to keep others out of my laptop at a wifi hotspot?
Make sure you have a firewall (Windows Firewall if nothing else) running to block unrequested incoming connections to the wireless connection and you should be fine against someone/something trying to attack your computer. This won't help if you or something running on the computer requests a malicious connection (e.g., you click a malicious link on a web page) but it does prevent random connections.
Ooops! I forgot to mention that I have the ZoneAlarm firewall going all the time--it's a startup item in my Windows Registry at HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run.
I also use the Netcraft toolbar and McAfee Site Advisor with my default browser, Firefox, and I use the NoScript Firefox plugin to prevent nasty scripts from executing and to prevent cross-site scripting. Oh, and I have Avast! anti-virus running too.
A friend of mine let her 14 year old son use her laptop for a while at a wifi hotspot and someone hacked into it. They didn't go to any questionable web sites. They think someone with a laptop sitting in a car in a parking lot got them. She had Microsoft Windows Firewall enabled, but it didn't save them. They had to use their recovery discs to do a clean install.
I don't need that and that's why I posted the question about not broadcasting a laptop's SSID, not knowing that the SSID is in routers and access points rather than in wifi cards.
I like wifi but don't like the idea that someone might be able to access my laptop when I'm using wifi.
Thanks for the reply; I hope I'm safe using everything I mentioned that I have, including the VPN, when I'm at a wifi hotspot.
The inherant problem with hot spots and such is that there is usually little to no wifi security setup. If they did they would have to publish this info for the user to use in setting up the security type and password, which would in essence defeat the security. If you are going to use your laptop at hotspots then having a very robust firewall is your only real line of defence.
Like as previouse poster mentioned the SSID is setup in the router. What you see on your end is the SSID that you are associated with. Your laptop does not broadcast a SSID, so there is no way to block it.
windows firewall is ok but since you are running Zonealarm be sure to keep it up todate. This is your only real line of defense.