Avoiding SSID-driven bugs in Wi-Fi setups

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Linksys MR7350 Wi-Fi 6 Mesh Router press picture courtesy of Belkin

When you set up a Wi-Fi network, you need to avoid the use of certain characters in your Wi-Fi network name

How to Fix the Mysterious iPhone Wifi Bug (and Avoid It Altogether) (lifehacker.com.au)

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There has been some recent publicity regarding an iOS / iPadOS bug affecting your iPhone’s or iPad’s Wi-Fi functionality. This is where the Wi-Fi functionality keels over when someone attempts to connect the iOS device to a Wi-Fi network segment that has plenty of “%” signs in its SSID like “%p%s%s%s%s%n”.

To rectify this and restore Wi-Fi functionality. you open the Settings app, then tap General, then tap Reset to open the Reset menu. Select Reset Network Settings which will have you wipe out SSIDs and passwords held in your iOS device. You would have to subsequently obtain the passwords for the networks you regularly use while this reverses the problems caused with that bug, Apple is expected to release a bugfix fir iOS and iPadOS during one of the subsequent minor software updates for these operating systems.

Most operating-system software is likely to be written in C or a derivative programming language. Here these languages use the % character as the modulus or remainder operator in integer arithmetic. As well, C-hased programming languages and UNIX-based operating systems make use of the % character followed with certain letters as part of formatting output text using their standard “printf” function. It may even be about pointing not to a variable but a particular location in the computer’s memory.

This may also happen with other characters like “*” that are used in programming languages for arithmetic, logic, memory-reference and similar purposes. In most cases, this kind of character parsing occurs when the software’s source code is compiled in to machine code for your computer or other devices to work from.

But you may get away with setting a password for your computer or online service using these kind of characters. This is because most password handlers that are properly written can handle all kinds of characters in a text string thanks to this kind of behaviour being determined at the time the software is written. Some of this software may limit the kind of special characters you use in your password and this would be true of older software. The same holds true for Wi-Fi network SSIDs and device names.

But where there are bugs in the software like with the iOS situation, it can be easy for that software to interpret text sequences with particular special characters as something to be parsed at runtime according to most programming languages’ rules. This can effectively cause the hardware or software to go haywire.

The probability of this happening can increase while a major version of an operating system is being released. This is due to pressure on those software coders to get the software ready and in time to please their employer’s marketing teams. But these kind of bugs are rectified through subsequent minor versions or bugfixes that appear shortly after the software’s major version is released.

One way to avoid this happening with your home or other small Wi-Fi network is to limit the use of special characters like “%” or “* in your network’s SSID or device names. This may also have to apply to your device names where you are able to give a computer or other network-connected device a unique name. Here, you may simply use letters and numbers, along with a hyphen, space or underscore (_) to delineate words in your network or device name.

Here, once you make sure that you limit the use of special characters in these network or device names, you are able to guarantee reliable operation from your network or other computing devices.

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