Home

 › 

Articles

 › 

What Is an SSID, and How Do I Find It?

icons on Microsoft Teams

What Is an SSID, and How Do I Find It?

Key Points

  • SSID stands for service set identifier, which is an alphanumerical representation of a network connection’s name.
  • An SSID must be between 0 and 32 bytes to be valid, and it can be made up of case-sensitive alphanumeric characters and special characters.
  • Changing your SSID can help avoid confusion and boost network security by making it easier to identify your network and avoid potential security threats.
  • Finding your SSID depends on the operating system you’re using, but it can usually be found in the wireless connectivity settings.
  • If two networks have the same SSID, your device may become confused and try to connect to the wrong network with the same name.

SSID stands for service set identifier, an alphanumerical representation of a network connection’s name. When you open your list of nearby Wi-Fi connections, it populates with all sorts of unique names and number combinations: your nearby SSIDs.

Wireless routers and other access points broadcast their SSIDs so that other devices can find and connect to them easily. Network names can be made up of case-sensitive alphanumeric characters and special characters. Most people set their wireless network to something memorable and easily identifiable.

Technical Specifications of the SSID

An SSID must be between 0 and 32 bytes to be valid. A 0-byte network name indicates that it is a wildcard able to connect to any Basic Service Set network. Wireless networks do not have a specified character set; you can use a string of NUL bytes if you want. This name will still be considered valid.

These specifications imply you should never manipulate SSIDs with normal string functions like strcpy() or friends. You should not assume a network name will be printable. If you need to log it to the disk or otherwise print the network name in the program, you should assume you cannot do so.

Can I Change My SSID?

Yes! Most ISPs encourage you to change the default SSID to something you can remember and identify easily. Usually, during the setup and installation, your technician, if you have one, will have you change the network name so you can easily connect to your Wi-Fi from any device.

Your internet comes with a default SSID associated with your router. Most internet service providers (ISPs) print the network name on a sticker on the device. So, search around your access point to where it lists the default wireless network.

Why Should I Change My SSID?

ssid
An SSID is a unique identifier distinguishing different network access points.

A few good reasons usually warrant changing your SSID. Changing your network name can help avoid confusion and boost network security. So, we recommend changing your wireless network if you haven’t already. Let’s examine this in detail.

Avoiding Confusion

If everyone’s home internet is named “Linksys,” it’ll be pretty hard to figure out which one is yours. If you live in an apartment building or a densely populated area, you’ll have difficulty finding your network connection if you have a default name.

Even if your ISP provides you with a default name more unique than just “Linksys” or “Netgear,” you’ll have a pretty hard time finding “Fios-LP5548“ because that’s just a collection of letters and numbers that have no meaning to you.

Boosting Security

Additionally, changing your default SSID boosts your network security. Now, it’s not exactly a secret technique. So, it won’t massively increase your security and make you invulnerable to threats. However, having a unique network name makes it easier for you to avoid two main security threats.

One threat you can more easily avoid is when a hacker creates a twin of your network connection. When you connect to the twin network, the hacker will steal your data since you’re accessing their network. While anyone can make a network with the same name as yours, it’s much easier to get them mixed up when the name of the network is meaningless to you.

Just think about it: when scrolling through the list of networks named “Linksys,” you’re much less likely to scrutinize a network with the same arbitrary set of numbers after it. If your network has a name that means something, you’re more likely to notice when the network is too far away or is otherwise different because it’s personal.

There is a second type of threat you can avoid by personalizing your SSID. Hackers may also be able to access your network more easily if the network name is the default. Since default wireless networks tend to include either the ISP’s name or the router’s manufacturer, hackers can use that information to identify potential security risks they can exploit in your network.

How Do I Find My SSID?

Finding your SSID depends on what system you’re using. Any device connected to the network can see the network name; it’s public information. It’s not hard to find a wireless network. You pretty much just have to open up the wireless connectivity window in whatever operating system you’re using.

Windows

To open the Windows connectivity dialog, navigate to the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. You don’t need to have any specific windows open. If you’re currently connected to a network, you’ll see a wireframe drawing of a monitor with a plug over it or a standard Wi-Fi fan.

Click the icon to open the dialog. In Windows 11, this will bring up a whole dock. The Wi-Fi connectivity button will be in the top left-hand corner of that dock. Your current connection’s SSID will be displayed below that button.

In Windows 10, clicking the network button will bring up the network dialog. The SSID will be displayed in the dialog as the top connection if you’re connected via Wi-Fi. If you’re connected by Ethernet, it may or may not show the SSID. Ethernet connections may simply refer to the connection as “Network [number].”  

macOS

macOS users should find the Wi-Fi symbol in the top right-hand corner. Clicking this icon will bring up a list of nearby SSIDs. Your network name will stand out because it will have a blue symbol rather than the standard black one.

Android

There are two ways you can access your SSID via the network settings menu in Android. The first way is to access your settings. Under your Wi-Fi settings, you will see your current network name. Clicking on the existing wireless network will bring up a list of nearby connections.

You can also pull down the top of the screen to access the dock. Your wireless network will be displayed here in the top left-hand corner. From here, you can turn your phone’s network adapter off. Clicking the network’s name will show you the list of nearby connections.

iOS

Finding your SSID on iOS is a fairly simple task. First, navigate to your settings. Then, open up your Wi-Fi settings. Here, you’ll be greeted with a list of nearby wireless networks. Your current connection will have a blue check mark next to it.

What Happens if Two Networks Have the Same SSID?

share wi-fi password
If two wireless networks have the same name, it can confuse devices trying to connect to them.

If two networks have the same name, there shouldn’t be an immediate problem if your device is connected via Wi-Fi. However, if you lose connection to the access point, your device may become confused between the two networks with the same SSID.

In this situation, the device will try to connect to the access point with the strongest signal. Hopefully, that’s correct, as you’re probably physically closest to the correct router. However, if you have a large house without a Wi-Fi extender or your signal has some interference, you may find that your device tries to connect to the wrong wireless network if two connections have the same name.

Is SSID the Same as IP Address?

No, SSIDs and IP addresses are different things. Internet Protocol (IP) addresses are unique identifiers allowing information to be transferred between devices via the Internet. This information allows the internet to identify different computers making requests to the World Wide Web.

Is SSID the Same as MAC Address?

SSIDs and MAC addresses are also different things. Network names are the names of wireless networks that distinguish them from each other for both human and computer interfacing. The media access control (MAC) address is a unique identifier assigned to the network interface controller (NIC).

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an SSID?

A service set identifier is a user-generated name for a network access point.

Do all networks have an SSID?

All networks have an SSID. 

Where do networks get their SSID?

Your ISP or router manufacturer will set your access point’s default SSID.

Can I change my SSID?

You can change your SSID whenever you want.

Are SSIDs important to network security?

SSIDs play a role in network security. Default network names often reveal the manufacturer of the router, which can reveal security flaws unique to your router to hackers looking to get your information.

To top