Connect to an "Unseen" Network
Sometimes, administrators configure their wireless access point not to broadcast its network name, also known as its Secure Set Identifier (SSID). If you don't see a wireless network available under the Available networks section, it may be because some security-conscious administrator has disabled this feature so that not just anyone with a network card will know about the wireless network.
If you know a wireless network exists, yet you can't see it listed in the Available networks, click the Add button under the Preferred network section. Then, in the Wireless Network Properties, as shown in Figure 10-10, manually specify the SSID. Since the network is being hidden, chances are that you'll have to provide wireless network key settings as well.
Figure 10-10. Adding a Preferred network to the list.
When you click OK, Windows XP will automatically connect to any wireless networks listed in the Preferred Networks section.
Before you do, however, just know that any information you transmit in such an environment is sent unencrypted into the very java-scented air about you, and is therefore subject to eavesdropping by someone with a) a wireless network card, b) software to capture the packets sent by your network card, and c) a lot of spare time on their hands.
And while you shouldn't worry too much about what data might be captured in a coffee shop, the same can't be said for most corporate environments. For this reason, many wireless administrators have to know how to restrict access to authorized users only, and also how to encrypt any and all data transmitted. We'll touch on these security topics a bit more in a later section of this chapter.