Will Windows 10 Share My Wi-Fi Password?

So – Windows 10 is here, and you’ve made the switch. There are likely some features of this new operating system that you like, and some that you don’t, as well as plenty of other features that you may not be aware of yet.

One feature that has caught the attention of many (and has caused some concern) is the Wi-Fi Sense feature in the new Windows 10 operating system.

Windows 10 Wi-Fi Sense

What is Wi-Fi Sense?

Wi-Fi Sense is a feature of the Windows 10 operating system that allows you to easily share your home’s network login and password with friends and other contacts. This is useful primarily for mobile devices whenever friends or family visit and need to access the internet at your home. Whether this is a good idea or not depends on your view of network security and how confident you feel about yours. Wi-Fi Sense also allows you to automatically connect to open Wi-Fi networks whenever your device is in range. If you’re in the habit of connecting to an open Wi-Fi whenever you’re out (such as at a coffee shop), you may appreciate not having to login every time.

Will It Share My Wi-Fi Password?

All this talk about automatic password sharing may make you a little nervous, and that’s okay. It probably should. Certainly, you don’t want to open your home network to just anyone, and you may not even want to share it with friends and family. So let’s see if we can sort this question out.

First and foremost, Wi-Fi Sense doesn’t put your password out there for anyone and everyone. If you allow Wi-Fi Sense to transmit your network credentials, your password will be encrypted. Additionally, you will be asked by the Wi-Fi Sense feature if you want to share this information with your contacts on Facebook, Skype, and/or Outlook – you can always say no.

But what if you don’t want Wi-Fi Sense activated in the first place? If you upgraded to Windows 10 using Express settings (and a majority of people have), then Wi-Fi Sense is turned on by default. Fortunately, you can enable or disable Wi-Fi Sense within Windows 10, so you’ll be able to deactivate this feature if you so choose.

How to Disable Wi-Fi Sense

If you’d like to turn off the Wi-Fi Sense feature on your PC, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Start > Settings > Network & Internet
  2. Select Manage Wi-Fi Settings
  3. Toggle Wi-Fi Sense to OFF for “Connect to suggested open hotspots” and “Connect to networks shared by contacts”

That’s it! If you want to enable Wi-Fi Sense, all you will need to do is follow the same path and toggle the settings to ON. Since Wi-Fi Sense can be enabled or disabled fairly easily, it’s not as big of an issue as some people would have you to believe.

Further Precautions

Network administrators will probably be glad to know that Wi-Fi Sense doesn’t work with networks secured using 802.1X, a standard security protocol used to keep enterprise networks locked down. But if you’re not using 802.1X, you can make your network unavailable to Wi-Fi Sense by renaming your network to include “_optout” at the end of your SSID.

If, however, you want to share your Wi-Fi but don’t want to enable Wi-Fi Sense, an alternative is to create a guest Wi-Fi connection for this purpose.  A guest Wi-Fi connection can be set up for both home and business use, and protects your network from issues such as viruses and malware that may be hitching a ride on an external device.

Keeping your network safe from viruses and malware as well as blocking attempts at hacking requires that you be vigilant, even in the face of exciting new developments such as Windows 10. Taking the time to examine the features of a new operating system can mean the difference between using the default settings and customizing the features that make the most sense for your network.