There Are Hidden Wi-Fi Networks All Around You — These Attacks Will Find Them

There are hidden Wi-Fi networks all around you — networks that will never show up in the list of available unlocked and password-protected hotspots that your phone or computer can see — but are they more secure than regular networks that broadcast their name to any nearby device?

The short answer is no, and that could be for any number of reasons.

Hidden networks are actually the same as regular Wi-Fi networks; only they don't broadcast their names (ESSID) in the beacon frames that regular networks send out. If the name isn't included, your phone or computer will never find it just by scanning for nearby hotspots to join. To join a hidden network, you need to know its name first, and there are a few attacks that can accomplish this.

There is no elaborate, crazy attack needed to discover hidden Wi-Fi networks in your area, so virtually anybody that can work their way around a computer can find one. You don't have to be a hacker, pentester, cybersecurity professional, or someone with another type of fancy cyber skillset.

Ways Somebody Can Uncover a Hidden Network

For example, you could monitor the phone, computer, or another device of a person who has connected to the hidden network before because their device will be "screaming out" the name of the network in plain text. That's because it never knows when it's physically close to the network since the network is not announcing its presence, so it's constantly looking for it.

You could also deauthenticate, or deauth, somebody currently connected to the ..