What is an SSID? How Can You Find A Service Set Identifier?

What is an SSID? How Can You Find A Service Set Identifier?

Some people believe that hiding your SSID protects you in the battle of network security. However, these network-identifying tools provide almost no protection. However, they might discourage others from stealing your internet. Below, we will address what an SSID is so that you might better be able to understand your home network.

What is a Service Set Identifier (SSID)?

 An SSID, or Service Set identifier, is another way to say “network name.” When you connect to your WiFi, it is the name people see for your network on the list of nearby WiFi access points. 

To find an SSID among nearby networks, you need an 802.11 WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) adapter. You can find these adapters on any laptop or smartphone. 

Most SSIDs you see have custom names you choose during the initial internet setup. However, the default SSID is a 32-character combination of numbers and letters. Default SSIDs typically include the router manufacturer’s name (i.e., Linksys, Netgear, Dlink) and a string of numbers. Some also choose to take on the Internet Service Provider’s name.

ssid examples on wireless list

How Does an SSID Work? 

SSIDs display their name in response to a request for WLAN connections. Whenever you click the button to scan for WiFi networks, a series of SSIDs will come back. Devices use these SSIDs to differentiate networks, just like you with your eyeballs. 

Devices save credentials behind SSIDs for easier connection. When doing this, you don’t have to enter your password each time you want to connect to your home network. That’s called convenience.

Common SSID Risks

 Of course, a little bit of convenience goes a long way, so there are some risks. Here is a list of the more common ones:

  • Keeping default SSID names. Users commonly forget or ignore the need to change browser credentials. Exposing your SSID means announcing your router’s make and model. If nearby hackers know this, they can access your home network. 
  • Not establishing your network security. If you don’t set up a WPA security password, anybody in the area will be able to access your home network. 
  • Broadcasting personal information. Users often like to disclose their personal information using SSIDs. Naming your router “The Miller Household” sounds cute on paper, but it is a privacy risk. 
  • You can offend the local population. You might want to avoid naming your router after something offensive. Not everyone shares your excellent sense of humor. 

Does an SSID Help With Security? 

Despite the standard advice of not putting personal information on your broadcasted network, there isn’t much to be said about SSIDs and security. Even hiding your network isn’t a full-proof method. Here are some extra security tips:

  • Change your router name to something that cannot identify you
  • Apply WiFi security to prevent unwanted guests from accessing information
  • Setup guest WiFI so you can provide your friends limited access (if necessary)
  • Change your router admin default username and password  

How Do You Hide Your SSID?

setting up ssid screenshot

Hiding your SSID has the benefit of discouraging people from accessing your home network. You’ll find that most routers cannot broadcast your wireless network name. Here’s where you can find it:

  1. Log in to your router’s admin page (typically found by entering the default gateway into your browser’s address bar)
  2. Enter your admin username and password
  3. Access the basic WiFi settings on your router
  4. Uncheck the “Enable SSID Broadcast” (or something similar)

 You’ll know you’ve done it right when an unfamiliar device doesn’t find your wireless network after scanning. Regardless, hiding does not mean that people cannot connect to your network.

When you access saved SSID information on devices already familiar with your network, you’ll note this. So if you find someone stealing your bandwidth, hiding your SSID will do nothing to stop them.

You will need to reset your router and develop a new router password. Do not stick with default factory credentials, as nearby hijackers can look up router defaults online. 

If dealing with people stealing your internet is a common issue for you, hiding your SSID is a good solution. Just be sure to hide your network name as you are setting up your network for the first time. 

How To Find Your SSID (on Any Device)

For the most part, finding your SSID on any device involves going to your WiFi settings. From there, you’ll be able to see it on the list of accessible WiFi networks. Here is how you find it on any operating system:

Operating SystemWhere is the SSID? 
Windows (11, 10, 8, 7, Vista, XP)Under the WiFi in the bottom right corner of your taskbar. 
macOSUnder the WiFI in the top right corner.
AndroidHold down on the WiFi button from your pull-down menu.
iOSUnder settings and WiFi
Linux Under settings and WiFi (or in the corner, depending on what Ghome extensions you have) 

Finding Your SSID on a Router

Because you’re on the device that is broadcasting the SSID, the process for finding one is different. There are two ways you can do this:

  1. Find it on the side of your router 
  2. Find it under “device name” from your router’s admin page 

The number one option will tell you your default SSID, not the one you manually set up (unless your router is magic). If you’ve never done a manual change, the following steps are for you. 

How To Change Your SSID

change ssid mobile

To change your SSID, you’ll need to access your router’s admin page. To do this, you can follow the following steps:

  1. Find your router’s default gateway (found through your WiFi settings seen above)
  2. Enter the default gateway IP address into your browser’s address bar
  3. Enter your admin username and password 
  4. Go to your basic wireless settings
  5. Look for “device name” or “router name.” 
  6. Change the textbox next to the “name” section

Changing your SSID to something general will prevent leering eyes from gathering information about your family or your home network. Always avoid mentioning something personal, your ISP, or the router’s name. 

Assigning Multiple SSIDs

In some cases, you can assign multiple SSIDs. These SSIDs can vary in several different ways:

  • Different rules for each SSID
  • Different gigahertz (to adapt to devices of different ages)
  • Levels of access (some SSIDs can act as data-limited network segments)

For example, you might not want to give your home guests 100% access to your home network. A guest network (often identified with the word “guest”) will enable them to use your bandwidth without accessing shared network features. 

You might also want to limit your children’s appeal to a wide range of devices. Older devices might not recognize newer 5 GHz and instead prefer 2.4 GHz ratings. 

SSID FAQs

What Happens if You Have Multiple Networks With the Same SSID?

Two different networks can share the same SSID without conflicting. These network names do not operate on the same IP addresses (there is no rule against exact SSIDs). The worst that might happen is your device might get confused about connecting to the correct network. 

Will Hiding Your SSID Prevent Hackers? 

Hackers can use 802.11 WiFi scanners to get access to hidden SSIDs. For example, the network discovery tool NetSurveyor will overcome this pretty quickly. So this is not a suitable form of security. 

Conclusion

SSIDs are simply the names of your WiFi networks. Regardless of what you name them, they still function the same. Calling them something generic and non-identifiable is your best bet for maintaining security.

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