Windows 10 is nearly among us and with it there is one feature that has people concerned called Wi-Fi sense, and while its implementation is for ease of use, the potential for it to be used for nefarious purposes is causing some alarm. It is fair to also say that Wi-Fi sense has been a feature of Windows Phone devices since the release of WP 8, but due to its relatively small install base it hasn’t really been viewed as a problem until now. The way that Wi-Fi sense is meant to work is that if you have someone over to your house or business and they want to be allowed on the Wi-Fi network instead of giving them your security key, you are able to share access to them through Wi-Fi sense. They don’t get to see the password but are still able to use your network to access the internet. It’s good to also note that they will not be able to see other devices that are on the network when being allowed on the network through Wi-Fi Sense.
Wi-Fi sense on paper seems like a convenient way to be able to help people access the web without having to go through the problem of entering in a security key, but there are a lot of other issues that become apparent:
- By default Wi-Fi Sense is enabled, meaning that any network that you have set to share will be accessible with your outlook.com, Skype and Facebook contacts (provided you give Wi-Fi Sense permissions to access your Facebook Account). It is worth noting before anyone gets out their pitchforks, none of your networks are set to share by default; so while you are saying it can share, you’re not giving Wi-Fi Sense anything to actually share. When you choose to connect to a wireless network is when the computer will also ask if you wish to share it to your contacts.
- For this system to work, the device that has been shared to will have to have the security key somewhere on their computer. This means if someone gets given access via sharing, then they could potentially find where in their computer that information is stored and gain access to it.
Here’s a couple of different ways in which you can ensure that Wi-Fi Sense is deactivated if you want it off.
Method 1: Turning Wi-Fi Sense off in your device settings.
This method is an easy one as you just have to navigate to your WiFi settings in your device. On the Windows Phone there will be a Wi-Fi Sense button you can press and on Windows 10 you will need to press “Manage Wi-Fi Settings” and deselect all of the options.
This will mean that even if you do accidentally allow one of your networks to be shared, then it will never be shared with anyone.
Method 2: Block anyone from sharing your network using the network name.
You’ll need to connect to your wireless router access its configuration webpage. To get to this you normally need to enter either http://192.168.0.1 or http://192.168.1.1 into your web browser; if these don’t work, then you may need to search for your router’s IP online. Once you are in and have entered any required username and password, you need to find where you can set the SSID (network name) and add “_optout” to the end of it. For example, if your wireless network was “RaptorNet” then you would have to change it to “RaptorNet_optout” to make sure that Wi-Fi Sense cannot be used with your network.
Do you think that Wi-Fi sense is a good idea? What do you think could make it better? Which method do you think is the best?