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What is an SSID and how can you find yours?

SSID stands for Service Set IDentifier and is your network’s name. If you open the list of Wi-Fi networks on your laptop or phone, you’ll see a list of SSIDs. Wireless router or access points broadcast SSIDs so nearby devices can find and display any available networks. Learn how they work and how to find yours below.

What is an SSID and how can you find yours?

What is SSID?

SSID definition

SSID stands for service set identifier. It’s a technical way to refer to a network’s name. When you see a list of available Wi-Fi hotspots on your device, you’re looking at a list of SSIDs. They can be up to 32 characters long. Routers come with default SSIDs (SSIDs beginning with “TP-Link” or “Linksys” should sound familiar), but users can (and should) change them to whatever they like.

Typically, manufacturers create default SSIDs by combining a company’s name with random numbers or letters. Depending on your router brand, the default SSID names could look something like this: TP-Link_015040, netgear37, Linksys00042, etc.

Changing your SSID and password from the default is usually a good idea. Similar default SSIDs can cause confusion. If you set a custom SSID, you can name your home “The Bat Cave”, “Unbreakable Fortress”, or however you like. Don’t expose your personal details in the SSID, such as your home address or full name.

How to find SSID

To find an SSID, follow the steps below for the relevant device and operating system.

How to find SSID on router:

You can usually find the SSID on your router printed on a sticker on the bottom or side. That won’t help if someone has changed your router SSID, however. The majority of default browsers will follow this format. Any router worth their salt will be protected by WEP, WPA/WPA2 or even a WPS PIN. These are a default form of security for anyone connecting to a router — they require the user to enter a password in order to access the router’s internet. Here’s how to find SSID on different operating systems (just don’t forget to turn on your Wi-Fi):

How to find SSID on Windows:

  1. Click on the Wi-Fi icon located on the bottom right corner and it will open a list of available networks (SSIDs).
  2. An SSID you are connected to is shown at the top of the window.
SSID on Windows

How to find SSID on macOS:

  1. Click on the Wi-Fi icon located on the upper right corner to open a list of available networks (SSIDs).
  2. The network you are connected to will have a blue Wi-Fi icon next to it.
SSID on macOS

How to find SSID on Android:

  1. Go to Settings > Wi-Fi.
  2. An SSID you are connected to will be shown above Connected.
SSID on Android

How to find SSID on iOS:

  1. Go to Settings > Wi-Fi.
  2. The network name (SSID) you are connected to will have a check mark next to it.

If you want to connect to your own wireless network but don’t know your SSID, the best option is to connect your router to the computer via ethernet cable and log into its web interface. We do not advise trying to guess — that’s the perfect way to fall for an evil twin attack.

What’s the point of hiding your SSID?

You can also change the settings on your router and turn off your SSID broadcast so it can’t be seen publicly. However, it isn’t a significant cybersecurity measure. While nobody will be able to see your SSID if you hide it, the traffic from your network can still be tracked with the right tools. It won’t hide your IP either.

To connect a new device to your Wi-Fi after hiding the SSID, you’ll have to configure your wireless settings manually.

What happens if there are multiple Wi-Fi networks with the same SSID?

As long as your device is connected to Wi-Fi, there’s no problem having multiple networks with the same SSID number within the vicinity. However, if your device disconnects and then tries to reconnect, this can cause some confusion, as it will pick the network with the strongest signal.

If those SSID names have unique passwords, your device won’t be able to connect and that’s the end of the story. But if there’s no password set, they can connect to a completely different network. This would allow criminals to monitor your internet traffic, steal your passwords, credit card details, and personal data.

What is a good name for your SSID?

Many choose to alter the SSID of their router as soon as they get it. If you live in a densely populated part of the world, it’s easier to find your Wi-Fi router name if it’s something personal you recognize — rather than the standard name that plenty of others might share.

When it comes to creative Wi-Fi names, it’s easy to get carried away with personal jokes and pranks. Remember that anyone visiting the house will probably want to connect to your internet, so making the name too raunchy may not seem like a good idea.

The best Wi-Fi network names are succinct and easy to recognize among a sea of jumbled letters and numbers — nothing identifying, however. Funny Wi-Fi names can also achieve that, but you may also be a source of ridicule with all those that can spot your SSID name.

Can I change my SSID name?

You can change your SSID name whenever you want. This can be done in your router settings.

Different brands of router use slightly different interfaces, but in most cases you can access your router settings by typing your router’s IP address into the domain name bar at the top of your browser. This will take you to a router settings page, where you can input a new SSID name.

Differences between SSID, MAC address and IP address

SSID is sometimes confused with MAC addresses and IP addresses. Let’s explain the differences.

An SSID is the name of your network. It is set to a default name by your ISP, but you can reset it yourself whenever you want.

A MAC address is the unique numerical signifier used to mark devices on a network. It helps your router identify all the individual devices that might be connected to it at once.

Finally, an IP address is a string of numbers that identifies a device on the internet. Your router has an IP address, and when you’re browsing the internet this IP address is used to make sure data reaches your network. If you don’t know it, you can quickly find your IP address through our IP lookup page.

Securing your network

We recommend changing your Wi-Fi password regularly as you can’t be sure if somebody is not sucking up your data. Always use a strong password and keep the router’s firmware up to date.

You can also set up a VPN on your router and improve your digital security. NordVPN hides your IP address and encrypts traffic, so nobody can monitor your activity without your knowledge. This secures you against hackers, as well as data-harvesting third parties.

When you install a VPN on your router, it protects all devices connected to the internet in your household. Of course, you can also install the app on every gadget individually and secure your traffic wherever you go. NordVPN operates more than 5500 servers in 59 countries, providing users with top speeds and multiple security features.

Try NordVPN free for 30 days.

Protect your router with a VPN

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