How to Find Hidden WiFi Networks

Are these networks secure? There are plenty of reasons why network administrators struggle to keep their Wi-Fi networks secure.

Due to the nature of wireless networks, they are considered less secure than wired networks. Wired networks are more secure and require less physical intrusion to operate properly.

In this article, we will talk about the concept of hidden SSID security. This feature is usually used by companies to scare off potential users.

How to Find Hidden WiFi Networks

Not all Wi-Fi networks are visible on the list of available networks. Some Wi-Fi networks are set up to be hidden. But with the right tool, you can find these hidden Wi-Fi networks and connect to them.

Popular tools to find hidden Wi-Fi networks include:

  • inSSIDer: The most popular Wi-Fi Wi-Fi network scanning tool on the market. Runs on either Microsoft Windows or Mac OS X
  • NetSpot: Another popular Wi-Fi scanning tool. Runs on either Microsoft Windows or Mac OS X. $49 for a personal license
  • Kismet: A free and open source Wi-Fi scanning tool. Runs on Mac OS X and Linux
  • NetSurveyor: This is a tool that scans your Wi-Fi network for available signals. It will then inform you about the available Wi-Fi signals in your area and provide a report containing various diagnostic values.
  • NetStumbler: this is a tool that can easily identify and troubleshoot wireless networks. It features a variety of features that allow you to perform network discovery and security checks.

Your Risks of Using Free Wi-Fi

Putting the SSID on your wireless network won’t add any extra security features to it. It makes it hard to connect to the network if your computer constantly scans the area for hidden networks. Also, it’s a risky strategy to use a network that’s constantly being detected.

Now that you know how to find free Wi-Fi no matter where you are, you should also be aware of the risks involved with using free Wi-Fi. And the risks are not insignificant:

Privacy Risks

Owners of free Wi-Fi networks could be tracking every action you take while you are connected to their networks. They could be recording your web browsing history, search history, and other personal data. Such data could then be sold to 3rd party buyers through middlemen known as data brokers. From that point on, your personal data could be sold and resold until it is dispersed throughout the entire Internet.

Rogue Wi-Fi networks

Some of the free Wi-Fi you see on your list of available networks might have been set up by criminals for the sole purpose of stealing your confidential data, passwords, and identity. You can never know for sure.

Hacking Risks

When you connect your smartphone or laptop to a free Wi-Fi, you could be exposing them to hackers hiding in that same network waiting for their victims. These hackers could hack into your devices, eavesdrop on the data you send, or install malware onto your phone and laptop. A free Wi-Fi network is like a jungle – it is dangerous out there.

Protect Yourself with a VPN

Because free Wi-Fi networks are such dangerous places, it is critical that you use a VPN to protect yourself whenever you use free Wi-Fi.

The top VPN for Wi-Fi hotspots are:

  • NordVPN: most popular VPN. Starts at less than $4 per month
  • offers a free tier with 10 GB of free data per month
  • Windscribe: offers a free tier with 10 GB of free data per month