Most people these days own either an Android smartphone or an iPhone. These are great devices to have. Rarely do they seem to be used for actual telephone calls anymore; their major function nowadays is generally as a way of keeping connected to the internet. Allowing us to connect to social media; surf the internet; use online banking; Google information, all whilst sat in a café with a cup of coffee, shows the amazing strides that technology has made over the last few years.
BUT… Does Your Phone’s Wi-Fi Reveal Where You Live?
As always whenever there are amazing benefits for genuine users, the potential arises for others to take advantage and use various methods to steal your information.
If your phone has the Wi-Fi constantly switched on, you are opening yourself up to the possibility of hackers, not only stealing information from you whilst sat beside you in a restaurant or café, but you also provide them with the opportunity to discover where you actually live, as not only does your phone start looking for a Wi-Fi network to connect to, it will also start broadcasting the names of previous networks that it has connected to in the past. This can include your workplace, friends’ houses and your own home.
Why is this a problem?
This can become a problem if by using the data that they harvest; the hacker can work out where you live. With your Wi-Fi switched on your phone broadcasts information such as:
- The MAC address of the router you are connected to and the address of the device that sent the request – this is an address unique to the device and also gives the manufacturer’s details
- The SSID data of your device, including trusted networks
This information can be harvested and typed into a site such as Wigle.net, that creates a heat map of Wi-Fi hotspots and anyone will be able to work out your home address. This can be done by the use of phishing emails, or with the use of scanners used in public places that emulate the Wi-Fi hotspot you are logging into and give hackers access to your data.
What can you do to stop your phone’s Wi-fi revealing where you live?
- The easiest way to do this is to switch off your Wi-Fi whenever you leave home to prevent your phone from constantly transmitting your Wi-Fi name. This is not always practical however, if you only have a low data limit with your phone package.
- With an Android phone you can leave your phone connected to a network and turn off the Wi-Fi scanning
- iPhone users can turn off the Auto-Join option in their settings
- You can decrease your Wi-Fi strength to prevent it from showing up on heat maps – you manual will have instructions
- Disable your SSID broadcasting to prevent your Wi-Fi name appearing on any heat maps. You will need to sign into your router as the admin and change the broadcast settings.