One simple addition to your WiFi fixes a privacy leak

Your WiFi router is leaking its precise location… but you can easily change that.

Recently, researchers discovered that Apple was leaking every WiFi router’s precise latitude and longitude to anyone who would ask. They even send you the location of the 400 closest WiFi routers around it.

If you are interested in the technical details and the reason for it, you can read this excellent article on Brian Krebs’ blog.

Fortunately, we have a rather simple way to remove our WiFi Access Points out of this massive collection by Apple and Google (Yes, Google does it too, although they don’t leak your location to anyone that asks).

The method to opt-out, that both tech companies propose, is they will ignore any WiFi that has a name that ends with “_nomap”.

The owner of a Wi-Fi access point can opt it out of Apple’s Location Services — which prevents its location from being sent to Apple to include in Apple’s crowd-sourced location database — by changing the access point’s SSID (name) to end with “_nomap.” For example, “Access_Point” would be changed to “Access_Point_nomap.”

Now, I guess we have to trust they actually do this, but not doing it would expose them to be caught lying about respecting people’s privacy. That’d be too damaging to their brand.

So now, the hardest part is, you’ll probably have to find the way to login into your router again (it’s probably sitting at or ), change the name of the WiFI that was probably set by default by your Internet provider and, at the minimum, add “_nomap” at the end of it.

Then you’ll have to reconnect every piece of smart home equipment you own, from your Roomba to your dishwasher, to your new WiFi network. And congratulate yourself for that hard work, because here is one bit of private information Big North American Tech is not capitalizing on anymore.

If you regularly set your mobile phone as a hotspot, you’ll probably want to do the same with the name of that network. Apple does provide a mechanism by default to protect iPhone users from tracking, but Android doesn’t.

While your changing your WiFi name, you might want to put in a funny one. So I’ve compiled for you a list of puns that end with _nomap.

  • getlost_nomap
  • noneed_nomap
  • cantfind_nomap
  • youvegot_nomap
  • nomoney_nomap
  • nolegend_nomap 
  • nowoman_nomap
  • nodetours_nomap
  • notreasure_nomap
  • nodirection_nomap
  • nocompass_nomap
  • nosurveillance_nomap

You’re welcome.






2 responses to “One simple addition to your WiFi fixes a privacy leak”

  1. L-) Avatar

    @xuv_writes apart from that this will only ensure that *next* time Apple drives by your house, pick up your wifi, it will not add it. It will not change their current database until that happens…

    1. julien Avatar

      I don’t think it needs a drive-by by Apple. I believe any Apple device is constantly uploading the full list of WiFI access points they see around every time they ask for a precise location. If not, their database would become obsolete very fast.

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