One Easy Way to Keep Neighbors From Stealing Your Wi-Fi

For many years, I didn't bother protecting my home network. Call me crazy, but I didn't see the need. All my neighbors, they had their own networks--all of them password-protected, of course. So why would I deal with the hassles of WPA2 passkeys and all that?

By Rick Broida
Wed, August 10, 2011

PC World — For many years, I didn't bother protecting my home network. Call me crazy, but I didn't see the need. All my neighbors, they had their own networks--all of them password-protected, of course. So why would I deal with the hassles of WPA2 passkeys and all that?

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Not long ago, my router died, and when I set up the replacement, I figured it was time for me to get smart and set up some encryption--just in case some cheapskate neighbor decided to start freeloading off my pricey cable Internet service. And you know what? Hassle city. I'm tired of entering a lengthy password every time I add a new device to the network (which is often). Plus, I have a couple wireless printers causing me major grief with the new WPA2 setup.

So I'm about ready to ditch it and go back to my unprotected ways. And when I do, I'm going to follow the clever advice I gleaned over at Digital Inspiration: I'm going to give my network a scary name.

Specifically, by choosing an unappealing or intimidating SSID (network name), I may well discourage non-tech-savvy neighbors (which, no offense, folks, is most of them) to steer clear. The author's example: c:\virus.exe. I like that, but what about something vaguely threatening like FBI-Watchdog? Or thievesbeware? Actually, think I'll go with this: iwillhackyou. That should be enough to keep the pilferers at bay.

Okay, maybe this is a bit silly. The smarter move is simply to not broadcast the SSID at all, meaning your network will stay invisible to outsiders while remaining available to you. (Find out more in Nick Mediati's How to Secure Your Home Wi-Fi Network.) That's the route I'm planning to take--but I still like the idea of a scary name for my network. Something like Palin2012. (Kidding!)

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at hasslefree@pcworld.com, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums.

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