When the hidden network WiFi setting has been enabled, most routers don’t broadcast their SSID. This option makes the network disappear and invisible to all connected devices by stopping the SSID from being broadcast.
Since numerous simple-to-use programs make it incredibly simple to identify hidden networks and read full information about them, turning on the hidden network WiFi option has lost much of its appeal as a security measure. We show you the tools that work in all versions of Windows, for free. Let’s get started:
NetSurveyor by Nuts About Nets includes logging to record and playback the data, making it appear like a more professional tool. A PDF report that displays the identified networks, beacon characteristics, channel utilization, and channels’ timecourse/heatmap/spectrogram may be generated automatically from the File menu.
The application displays hidden wireless networks as UNKNOWN SSID BSSID. You can see the overlapping channels with the colored bars on the channel utilization bar graph immediately. You can use NetSurveyor in DEMO mode to test it out, even if your PC doesn’t have a wireless adapter. Microsoft.NET Framework versions 3.5 or later are required for NetSurveyor to run on Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7.
Among the several scanners listed in this post, Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector has the largest file size at 21MB. The program boasts a sleek ribbon-style user interface, but it only has one Home tab, making it look excessive. The program is divided into four categories: signal history, connection information, found networks, and radar. Simply put, the radar shows you which access points are closest to you.
The Inspector’s gadget version can be obtained from the official website as well. It is cost-free and compatible with Windows Vista, 7, 8, or 10.
To replace the out-of-date Netstumbler, Vistumbler is a free wireless network scanner created in Autoit for Vista. Vistumbler has been operating since 2007, and a new update was just made available after a two-year absence. The access point is scanned using the same way by Vistumbler with the exception that the results are shown in a table that is simple to understand.
Even though we just downloaded the most recent version, Vistumbler will still show an update available. A warning regarding a variable being used without being declared will appear when you click “Yes”, and the program will close when you click OK. When asked if you want to upgrade Vistumbler, all you have to do is select No.
If none of the seven programs listed above can be installed or operated, netsh is the best fallback option. Microsoft’s netsh command shell tool is a Windows operating system component. To acquire a list of wireless networks, just open the command prompt and type the following command line. To achieve a more precise result from this command, it is advised to disconnect from any access points before using it.
The netsh command lacks a sophisticated graphical user interface or attractive graphs, yet it is handy because it doesn’t require the installation of third-party tools. Comparing the netsh tool to the third-party tools mentioned above, it is surprising to see how much information it can display. Keep in mind that if you have both wired and wireless connections active, you must first turn off the wired connection to avoid seeing the warning “There are 0 networks currently visible.”
The most well-known open-source and free Wi-Fi scanning program accessible right now is inSSIDer. Without all the complicated settings, it is simple to use and comprehend. Running inSSIDer after installation will automatically choose your wireless adapter and begin looking for available access points. In the application, the results are then displayed in a sortable table along with details like the SSID, channel, security, RSSI, MAC Address, maximum rate, vendor, and network type.
The first line displays the empty SSID of the covert wireless network, however the remaining network details are exposed. Android, Mac, Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10 (32-bit & 64-bit), and inSSIDer are all compatible.
You may view the available wifi networks nearby with WirelessNetView, a fantastic little portable tool created by Nir Sofer. It can even display the brand of the wireless router based on the MAC address by storing the OUI database in the same folder as WirelessNetView. The right-click context menu allows you to create an HTML report file, and the command line option allows you to save the list of wireless networks into an external TXT, CSV, HTML, or XML file.
There is no SSID displayed for the concealed wifi network. The option to restart Windows Wireless Service from the Options toolbar or via the hotkey Ctrl+R is a unique feature of WirelessNetView. Windows XP to Windows 10 are compatible with WirelessNetView.
The stand-alone program Winhotspot lets you quickly set up a hotspot to share your Internet connection through your wireless adapter. But it also has a scanner that can be accessible from the WiFi Stats page, and pressing the Refresh button displays all of the wireless networks, even the ones that are hidden.
The specific wardriving feature displays the most crucial data, including SSID, Auth, BSSID, Signal, Radio, and Channel. It only supports Windows 7 and 8 and is only 154 KB in size. To avoid downloading the pointless 600KB CNET installer, click the Direct Download link rather than the large Download Now button that is housed on CNET’s site.
Best Practices for Configuring WiFi SecurityConfiguring WiFi security is a must for all users. This is because it helps you to protect your data and privacy. There are many ways to configure security for WiFi, but the best way is to use WPA2-PSK (WPA2 with Pre-Shared Key) protocol. For more information, click here.
Homedale is another lightweight and cost-free wifi monitoring device that can identify unreported wireless networks (see our full review). The application is separated into four sections, each of which summarizes your wireless adapter, access points, signal graph, and available choices. The signal strength levels for each discovered network are automatically updated every few seconds under the Access Points page.
An unusual function of Homedale is the option to connect to the access point by right-clicking the AP and selecting Connect. Unfortunately, the hidden ones without the SSID do not affect the connect command.