Be Careful With Network Names

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Have you ever considered what information your phone and/or hotspot is giving away about you? Even a password protected network might reveal way more than you'd imagine - just by what it is named.

An example: we have some neighbors camped next to us tonight, up late being a bit too boisterous around the campfire. A WiFi scan reveals a network hotspot close enough by that it must be them. The network name: "John Doe's iPhone". (Name changed to protect the clueless.)

The network is secure, but his name is rather unique. Two seconds in Google reveals that he is 55-59 year old, from Alpena, MI, and I even get his home address and phone number too.

It is so tempting to call and tell him quiet hours have long since arrived. Or that a bear has been sighted and he needs to get his party indoors ASAP. Or that a tidal wave has been sighted on Lake Huron, and he has 15 minutes to evacuate and save his family...

With ill intention, who know's what else might be possible - particularly knowing his home address and that he has taken his family away for vacation.

The lesson: if you want to remain anonymous to your neighbors, take care what you name your network, and don't rely on the default auto-generated name your phone may use when creating a hotspot.

On the other hand - have fun with your network name if you want to amuse your fellow geeky campers. Naming your network things like 'FBI Surveillance Van' or 'Have a Nice Day :)' can bring a smile to people's day when they scan for available WiFi. Or if you do want to make it known who you are and maybe even meet some new friends, name your network something identifying, like your travel blog name!

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