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windows 7 wifi access point SSID broadcasting

I was reading Microsofts recommendations about broadcasting or not broadcasting the SSID for your access point. Microsoft recommends that you broadcast the SSID of the access point and one reason was that once the laptop is configured for access to the access point, the laptop will broadcast the SSID, so the theory goes, you SSID will be broadcast one way or another.
I thought about this and thought that maybe they are correct, because they are assuming that you check the "automatically connect" check box. But what if you don't automatically connect? Wouldn't that mean that your access point information wouldn't be broadcasted? If the laptop didn't remember the info about the access point, how could it be broadcasting? So in the interest of not making it too easy to get into your access point, wouldn't not broadcasting, and not remembering you access point info help. I realize that even if your access point isn't broadcasting, some determined people might still be able to figure out what your SSID is, but my arguement to that is, most people don't have those skills, and why make it easy for the people that do?
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JeffBeall
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JeffBeall
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3 Solutions
 
rindiCommented:
It's usually not those that aren't skilled to protect yourself from, but rather those that are skilled. Also, if an SSID isn't broadcast, it'll make those skilled people more determined as it'll look as if you are trying to hide something.
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JeffBeallAuthor Commented:
but what about the idea that the computer wont broadcast the SSID if you don't automatically connect. wouldn't that be correct?
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rindiCommented:
You don't really need the SSID to crack the security of the device, and you only need to collect the packets when clients communicate with it to then get the SSID.
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Craig BeckCommented:
The computer won't broadcast the SSID - it's more of an advertisement by the AP rather than something a client will broadcast (unless its an Ad-Hoc network, but then an AP isn't used).  The client will transmit frames with the SSID included, which is where I think the broadcast theory would come from, but in all honesty the SSID being hidden offers no security whatsoever.

If you think about it, why would someone be able to crack your encryption but not be savvy enough to find your SSID?  I think either way you're going to know what you're doing, so I'd expect anyone wanting to break into your network will find your SSID relatively easily whether its broadcast or not.
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
the Wireless Access Point is responsible for broadcasting or not the SSID.  

Your wireless radio simply listens for SSID's that are available and then attempt to connect with any it finds in range, if you have automatically connect enabled, otherwise it will just listen.

If you want true stealth mode for the wireless radio, disable or turn it off.
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JeffBeallAuthor Commented:
nice info - thanks - reading the comments made me think of another questions. would you use something like wireshark to capture wireless packets? or is wireshark only for wired connections? So if it is wireshark would I be able to block wireshark though blocking a port? for instance does wireshark use port whatever, so i could block that port on my AP. Or do packet shiffers just listen to everything and therefore can't be blocked?
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JeffBeallAuthor Commented:
thanks for the info - I would have like my last question answered, but it looks like no one is responding - it's weird how sometimes questions are just dropped like that.
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rindiCommented:
I haven't used wireshark for a long time so I don't know much about it. Apart from that ports don't have much to do with wireless or AP's, they have more to do with firewalls.
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Craig BeckCommented:
@ JeffBeall - without trying to sound awkward, the whole point of the site is (as you imply) to obtain answers to questions.  However there are other purposes, such as acting as a knowledge-base to enable people to find answers to questions which have already been asked.  Asking more than one question within a thread makes it harder to ensure the focus of the thread remains on the primary issue and instead tends to make the thread take a tangent!

If you want more than one question answering, generally you should open a new thread for each specific one.  Sometimes you might also find that once points have been assigned people tend to unmonitor the question or ignore new posts.

If you search the site you might even find the answers to your secondary questions have already been provided in other threads.  :-)
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JeffBeallAuthor Commented:
oh, I didn't think about asking several questions on one thread. It's no problem with me if it's better etiquette to ask in another thread. I'll do that next time - maybe this answers my mystery of why some of my questions seem to get dropped, maybe I was asking more than one question at a time. Sorry about that, I'll try to keep that in mind from now on.
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
wireshark connects using pcap to your network adapter.. It cannot be blocked by external sources. There are better wifi sniffers out there..
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