WiFi security on Android tablet

November 11, 2016 at 10:54:36
Specs: several
I know that a WiFi router normally broadcasts its name continuously.
It is by finding that name in the list of nearby WiFi hotspots that I can
select which hotspot to connect to. I also know that broadcast of the
name can be turned off. That makes connecting to the router more
difficult, but doesn't really increase security significantly. The router
is still broadcasting all the other information continuously.

But what about the Android tablet computer that connects to the router?
Does it also normally broadcast its WiFi name continuously? There is no
provision to turn off broadcasting of the name. Does it broadcast other
info continuously? Could someone detect my tablet's WiFi signal and
connect to it directly?

How about when Wi-Fi Direct is turned on?

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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#1
November 12, 2016 at 02:32:42
Your router only broadcasts the name (SSID) of your network, not the name of any WiFi devices you connect to it.

Your tablet and other WiFi devices do not broadcast anything, only your wireless router can do that, and all it braodcasts is the router's SSID.

People who are within range of your router (eg a neighbour or someone parked in a car outside your house) will see your router's SSID but they won't be able to connect to it provided you have your wireless network secured with a WPA or WPA2 wireless key (often mistakenly called a password).


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#2
November 13, 2016 at 07:42:18
Yeah, let it broadcast. It doesn't help security to turn it off and is highly inconvenient. The security angle is well known, see Google.

Always pop back and let us know the outcome - thanks


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#3
November 13, 2016 at 12:32:05
phil22,

The term "password" is used in the documentation and in the
software on my tablet, smartphone, and modem/router, so I'll
use that term here.

My use of the term "broadcast" may be misleading. Any radio
signal from these devices is a broadcast, because the signal
goes out in all directions and can be picked up by any receiver
nearby.

With that definition, my tablet and other devices definitely do
broadcast their own names. Perhaps my question is when and
how often do they broadcast this information? Do they send it
only when requested by the other device? Do they send it in
response to ANY other device? Do they send it constantly, like
the router apparently does? Or what?

One of the reasons I asked is that I was trying to connect an
Android tablet to an Android smartphone via Wi-Fi Direct, and I
was not asked for a password. The indicator on the smartphone
appeared to indicate that the connection had been made. I failed
to notice whether the indicator on the tablet also showed up.
I assumed that the connection was made, but didn't know how to
use it to transfer data. I now think that assumption was wrong.
When I tried again just now, the indicator did not appear on the
tablet. I tapped the entry on the tablet for the smartphone, and
it popped up a box to type in a password. I guess I expected
that box to pop up automatically.

However, I don't know what password it wants. Maybe I can figure
that out on my own by further poking around, but it isn't obvious.
Again, it is the tablet asking for the password. Is this a password
that was set on the smartphone? I do not remember setting any
password on the smartphone, and I don't see any mention of one
anywhere. The same goes for the tablet. I do not remember setting
a password. If I had set a password for either device, I would have
written it down, as I did for the modem/router.

When I turn on WiFi Direct on the smartphone, it puts up a notice
that it "is currently visible to nearby devices", by its name. The tablet
doesn't put up such a notice, but it is from a different manufacturer
and uses an earlier version of Android.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis


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