Metageek's inSSIDer logoPart of securing a wireless network is disabling the SSID broadcast, unless you want people like guests to be able to easily find and connect to your wireless network. But don’t get a false sense of security. Disabling the broadcast isn’t enough to keep people from discovering the presence and even the SSID that you’ve hidden. People sniffing around for hidden networks can use an app like inSSIDer to request a beacon packet. Any 802.11 access point that receives such a request, according to the 802.11 standard, must respond with a beacon packet that contains the SSID of the network. So disabling the SSID broadcast sweeps your network’s presence under the rug, but won’t hide it from anyone who knows how to look.

There are many legitimate uses for a tool like inSSIDer. An IT technician could use it to monitor their own environment for rogue access points and sources of interference. Plus if you want to know how well your WAP covers different areas of the building, the extra information is much more useful than “I have two bars,” or “I have three bars”. With this hard data in hand you could position an access point to best effect, configuring it for the best channel to avoid interference in your environment, and even potentially reduce the transmitting power, so that you don’t over broadcast into nearby areas.