Demystifying the Jargon: What Is SSID?

Demystifying the Jargon: What Is SSID?

Graham C
Graham C

Let's make heads or tails of that elusive creature known as the SSID, your Wi-Fi's calling card to the world. That's right, SSID is short for Service Set Identifier - basically, the pick me sign that yells out the name of your wifi network to anyone who'll listen.

When you open the list of Wi-Fi networks on your smartphone or computer, what you see is the networking world's version of a neighborhood watch – a bunch of SSIDs hollering out "Over here!" Wireless routers or access points are the town criers of the digital realm, announcing these SSIDs so your gadgets can scout out the best connection around and pick a place to hang out.

How Do I Find My SSID?

If you're on the hunt for your network’s SSID, take a gander at the Wi-Fi icon on your device. Click it, and behold — a list of network names appears! The one that you're hooked up to? That's your SSID; treat it like the secret handshake to your wireless club.

Find My SSID On My Router

Almost every ISP-provided router will come with a factory-set SSID that's about as unique as a penguin in a huddle. You might find something like "TP-Link_YoullNeverGuessThisNumber" or "Linksys_RandomStringOfLetters". Changing that SSID name is a smart move; go for something fancy like "The Invisible Fortress" or "It'sFreeWiFiNot". Keep your personal deets out of it, though — leaving digital breadcrumbs like your full name or the Batcave’s coordinates is a big no-no.

Flip that router over and look for the know-it-all sticker. You'll see your network’s cover name and the password. This sticker should also have the admin creds for your router. Let's say some internet wizard already changed the name. Fear not! If you're connected, just peek at your device's Wi-Fi settings.

If by some chance, you can't do the previous two options, it's time to fasten that belt buckle and venture into the mystical land of your router’s admin realm:

    • Punch in your router's IP address into your browser's search bar like you're Indiana Jones solving an ancient temple riddle
    • Use your router's admin credentials to log in and scour the Wi-Fi settings domain until the SSID reveals itself

Find My SSID on Windows

  1. Click the Wi-Fi emblem in your taskbar's corner
  2. The SSID you're connected to will be at the top of the pop-up window

Find My SSID on MacOS

  1. Go to the top right corner of your screen and click on the Wi-Fi icon. This will open a list of available networks
  2. The Wi-Fi network you're connected to will have a blue icon next to it

Find My SSID on Android

  1. Go to settings, then select Wi-Fi
  2. The SSID of your currently connected network will appear at the top of the available networks list

Find My SSID on iPhone

  1. Navigate to Settings > Wi-Fi.
  2. The SSID with a checkmark next to it is your current connected network

I Still Can't Find My SSID

If your scanner draws a blank on the SSID, it's time for old-school tactics — wire your router to your computer with an ethernet cable like it's 1999 again.

Should I Hide My SSID?

In the dark alleys of network espionage, hiding your SSID is like throwing on a digital invisibility cloak — it won't make you invincible, but it does make you harder to spot. Your digital footprints can still be sniffed out with the right nose for the job. Even if your SSID is hidden from the general public, anyone who knows how to monitor your network traffic might be able to sniff you out and identify your IPs.

Can I Have Multiple Of the Same SSID?

In short, yes. It's not really a problem. However, if your device disconnects and tries to reconnect, it will likely choose the strongest signal. This may not be the same network that you were previously using, so you'll likely need to enter the password for your current connected network.

What Should I Name My SSID?

When naming your trusty Wi-Fi steed, there are several things to consider. While you may want your network's name to stand out amongst the others to be easy to find, you shouldn't do so at the expense of identifying yourself or your personal information.

Keep in mind that you can always rename your SSID. You'll have to re-login on all previously connected devices but it's a good practice that makes your network less identifiable.

What Is the Difference Between SSID, MAC Address, and IP Address?

Finally, let's talk about SSID's cousins, MAC and IP addresses. The SSID is your network's calling card. MAC addresses, on the other hand, are the unique identifier of each device on the network, helping your router identify who's who.

IP addresses? Those are a string of numbers that are used to identify a device on the internet. Your router is the one that gets an IP address assigned to it, and this is used to make sure data is flowing in both directions properly.

How To Secure Your Network

For starters, it's a good idea to change your Wi-Fi password like you change your socks (which, hopefully, is quite often). You should also make sure you also keep your router updated.

If you're interested in seriously leveling up your digital protection, a VPN like Windscribe can serve as your invisible armor. It'll keep your IP cloaked and your data locked up tight from any baddies lurking.

Graham C
Graham C