What is SSID? Guide to find and change network name

Anton P. | May 27, 2021

SSID is the network name devices see when they scan areas for Wi-Fi. Scans also show whether networks are open to anyone (do not require a password). You can also find the strength of the signals. 

If you open the list of Wi-Fi networks on any device, you will likely see many names. Let’s discuss how to find yours and how securing your network relates to changing the default SSID. 

SSID is the network name or service set identifier.

SSID meaning explained 

SSID stands for Service Set Identifier. In simple terms, it is the name of your Wi-Fi network. For instance, click on the Wi-Fi icon on the menu bar to see the names of nearby networks. Then, wireless access points broadcast the network over radio frequency. 

When mobile devices or computers scan for available networks in the area, they put forward the detected SSIDs. 

Depending on other conditions, you could connect to a wireless network immediately. Others could require passwords or authentication through a browser (captive portal).

You can customize your network name however you like, but you should note several requirements: 

  • SSIDs are case-sensitive, meaning they treat uppercase and lowercase letters as distinct. 
  • Wireless local area network (WLAN) standards dictate that SSIDs cannot be longer than 32 characters long
  • There are no indications of how short it should be

You could prevent your network name from being broadcasted to other devices. It is helpful, and we will discuss how to keep your SSID and password secure

How to find your SSID? 

Your SSID should be visible on the router itself. However, this is the default SSID number, and you might have already changed it. 

Thus, you can also find it by clicking on the Wi-Fi icon on any operating system. The network at the top will be the one you have connected to. 

The ones below will be other wireless routers within your range. 

How do devices use the SSID numbers? 

When you scan the area for nearby wireless networks, your device presents SSIDs. 

However, network names are only some of the things you see on the list of networks within your reach. 

  • The signal is strong: the ones nearby will offer better connectivity than those farther away. 
  • If the network requires a password: a small padlock will be visible next to the connect button. 
  • Whether the network supports 5G, the next-gen internet connection. You should see a 5G label next to the networks.

However, devices automatically show only those networks that broadcast their names without restrictions. 

Therefore, if network managers disable SSID broadcasting, you won’t notice such hotspots on the list. Instead, you must manually add the network by typing in the name. 

However, the efficacy of this approach differs. More tech-savvy individuals could still sniff out the SSID from the header of data packets passing through the network. 

Common issues with SSIDs 

You should also know how to manage your network correctly as well. Here are the usual pitfalls that users might neglect to consider and how to avoid them. 

  1. Networks with the same name

Several networks in your area may have identical SSIDs. If you set your device to auto-connect to networks, it might join an unknown one

Of course, such unfamiliar networks should not require passwords. Only then can you connect to them by accident.  

  1. Keeping default SSIDs

Users should always change the default SSIDs. It will help avoid the crisscross between networks with the same name. Additionally, you won’t have to remember which generic name refers to your network. 

  1. SSID too short

The general rule is that you should recognize your network name from others. Thus, try to make it appropriate, so you can immediately regard it as yours. 

  1. Provocative language

Many users might add certain SSIDs as a joke. For instance, they could use foul language or add coded messages. 

In other cases, the name might challenge hackers or other entities to hack them. All these situations attract unnecessary attention to your network. 

  1. Disabling SSID broadcasting but leaving the network open

Users might wrongly assume that as long as people nearby won’t see their networks, they do not need passwords. 

It is possible to find your network in other ways. Thus, even though you disable broadcasting, do not forget to add a password. It could help you prevent piggybackers from attempting to use your network for free. 

Proper network management consists of many components and tasks. SSID is a part of it, and you should ensure that you do follow these rules. 

Make your network efficient, easy to find for those who need it, and secure overall. You can also hide your IP address by connecting to a VPN server.

Browse safely & anonymously with a VPN

Browse safely & anonymously with a VPN

Encrypt your internet traffic and defend against online snooping, hackers, governments, or ISPs.
Anton P.

Anton P.

Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.



© 2023 Atlas VPN. All rights reserved.