What's causing my Windows XP Service Pack 1 (SP1) machine to ignore the connection order of my wireless networking devices and connect to an Access Point (AP) that broadcasts its Service Set Identifier (SSID)?

A. For computers connecting to multiple wireless networks, you can use XP's Preferred Network list to establish an order in which the computer will connect to those networks. Each wireless AP can optionally broadcast its SSID, which identifies the network name. Many security guides advise you to turn off the SSID broadcast because hackers can use this information to see your network.

Imagine that you want to connect to a wireless network in XP's Preferred Network list that isn't broadcasting its SSID. If you're in a location serviced by that network as well as another network that does publish its SSID but is lower down on the Preferred Network list, XP will connect to the SSID-broadcasting network instead of the network that isn't broadcasting. Microsoft says this behavior is by design and that all APs should publish their SSIDs, despite what many manufactures advise. Currently no workaround exists to overcome this behavior.

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