What is a Wi-Fi Service Set Identifier (SSID)?

What is a Wi-Fi Service Set Identifier (SSID)?

What is a Wi-Fi SSID?
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What Is a Service Set Identifier (SSID)?

A service set identifier, otherwise known as an SSID, is the name associated with an 802.11 wireless local area network (WLAN.) Devices use the SSID to identify and join public and private wireless networks. In other words, an SSID is simply the name of your Wi-Fi network.

What Does an SSID Do?

Various devices, including computers, smartphones, tablets, and wearable technologies, scan the local area for a Wi-Fi signal. Generally, the device will return a list containing many different SSID’s, typically with a locked symbol beside them. Once a user selects an SSID, they will be prompted to insert a password which will then grant them access to the network. In most cases, devices will store any SSID’s that have been connected to the device so that in the future, you can join the network without having to input the password again.

How to Find Your Wi-Fi Network’s SSID

If you can’t remember the default name of your network, then try looking on the router, which should contain that information along with the default password. However, if the SSID and password are not listed on your router, then you can still access this information. By connecting a computer or another compatible device directly to your router with an ethernet cable, you can access the router’s configuration page, which will contain your SSID and password.

Some people choose to change their SSID to add a custom name. Others choose to change the password to something that will be easy to remember; this can all be done by accessing your router’s configuration settings via an ethernet connection. Because devices store SSID’s, it’s not usually necessary to remember your password, but if you have guests visiting often, then it might be useful to have a password phrase that’s easy to remember; however, this is entirely a matter of personal preference.

Should You Hide Your SSID?

It is possible to hide your SSID so that it doesn’t appear in the list of available Wi-Fi networks, and this can add an extra layer of protection and security to your network because another person would need to know both the SSID and the password to be able to access your network.

That said, it is easy to discover local SSID’s by intercepting packet data, and so this is not a totally secure way of hiding your SSID.

Also, if you do choose to hide your SSID, then you may encounter performance issues, as the device constantly needs to search for and connect to the network. Another thing to keep in mind is that hidden SSID’s can actually be more susceptible to attacks because the router is constantly broadcasting the name of the SSID in an attempt to connect devices with the hidden network. So, generally speaking, it is not advised to hide your SSID. Having a great password is always the best way of securing your network.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Happens if There Are Multiple Wi-Fi Networks With the Same SSID?

This is a common issue because many home networks are named “home” or something similar. Once your device has been connected to an SSID and stored the credentials, then it will automatically try to connect to the network with this SSID. So, your network is called “home,” and your neighbour is also using the “home” SSID; it’s possible that your device will attempt to connect to your neighbour’s SSID instead of yours.

Most often, when there are multiple networks with the same SSID, devices will attempt to connect to the network with the strongest signal first. However, this isn’t really much of an issue because your phone will presumably only have the login credentials to access your network. If you have connected to your neighbours’ network that also has the same SSID, then you can tell your device to “forget” the other network by navigating to your device’s network settings and selecting the Wi-Fi network that you’d like to forget.

Does An SSID Matter To Wireless Security?

As mentioned, whether you hide your SSID or not, the name of your network can easily be detected by anyone who has network monitoring software and hiding your SSID actually causes your router to broadcast the name of your network more frequently, and so for these reasons, it is not usually a good idea to hide your SSID, as it can compromise the security of your network.

However, there is no need to panic. Anyone with your SSID will still need to know your password in order to connect their device to your network, so be sure that you choose a lengthy, complicated password that will be impossible for someone else to guess but that you will remember. Good passwords generally consist of both upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.

What Are The Advantages Of Turning Off SSID Broadcasting?

If you choose to accept the risks and disable your SSID broadcasting, then most people will not be able to see your network in the list of available Wi-Fi networks. This means that somebody would need to know your SSID as well as your password, which is very unlikely indeed. Again, there is software that can allow people to discover your SSID, but the odds of someone nearby having that software, discovering your SSID and knowing the password are considerably low.

Summary

A service set identifier, or SSID, is the name of your 802.11 Wi-Fi network. Devices store SSID’s once connected to those networks for future convenience and ease of access. It is possible to find and change your SSID and password by connecting a device via ethernet cable to your router and accessing the router’s configuration settings. It’s also possible to hide your SSID, but this isn’t foolproof and is seldom necessary; ultimately, it’s a matter of personal preference.

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