NordVPN: Hackers can use Wi-Fi names to find out home location and steal data

LONDON, July 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — As of July 2021, there were 116.8 million internet users in Japan, and 92.6% of people globally connect to the internet through the Wi-Fi on their phones. However, few know that phone Wi-Fi can reveal person’s living location.

“All it takes for someone to find your house location is your Wi-Fi name. There are public websites like that create heatmaps of Wi-Fi hotspots. Anybody can simply type your Wi-Fi name into Wigle’s search bar and find out where you live,” digital security expert at NordVPN Daniel Markuson comments.

How does a person’s phone reveal the Wi-Fi name?

A phone is continuously looking for trusted Wi-Fi networks. Once a person gets close to home or work, the device automatically connects to the network it finds there. This is convenient, but by continually broadcasting these “joining requests”, the phone gives out a lot of valuable information about it.

Can hackers find out where a person lives?

Having “joining requests” combined with Wigle’s data, a hacker only needs a Wi-Fi name to figure out the user’s living location.

“A hacker can stick the scanner under a park bench, under a table at the coffee shop, or just carry it in his backpack,” says Daniel Markuson from NordVPN. “You won’t notice it, but the scanner will passively log all nearby Wi-Fi requests.”

How to protect yourself?

As scary as it sounds, Daniel Markuson says that there are ways to protect yourself, and most of them don’t require much technical knowledge.

  • Change your phone’s Wi-Fi settings or turn it off. Even if your phone is connected to Wi-Fi network, this doesn’t stop it from scanning the area for other networks. The easiest way to change this is to either adjust your settings or completely turn Wi-Fi scanning off. 
  • Change your Wi-Fi strength. To keep your Wi-Fi from showing up on hotspot heat maps, you can reduce your Wi-Fi strength. You will get a better signal if your router is in an open space rather than in your closet, but it doesn’t need to be so strong that your neighbors can use it too.
  • Use a VPN on your Wi-Fi router. A VPN can encrypt the traffic on every device connected to your home Wi-Fi.

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