What Is 'SSID' in Wireless?

By Aaron Parson

Short for **Service Set Identifier**, an SSID is essentially a wireless network's name. Every Wi-Fi router uses an SSID, and wireless devices use those names to help you distinguish your network from every other network in range.

Using an SSID

If you've ever used wireless Internet, you've already used an SSID, even if you didn't realize it. When your computer or smartphone displays a list of Wi-Fi networks, each network is listed by its SSID.Unlike usernames on websites, *network SSIDs don't need to be unique*. In fact, many routers simply use their brand names as SSIDs out of the box, which is why you'll often see networks named "Linksys," "Netgear," "Belkin" and so on. A network's owner can change the SSID to any name of up to 32 characters in the [router settings](http://www.ehow.com/how_2100470_change-router-ssid.html).

SSID Security

Some routers have the option to not broadcast their SSIDs, theoretically requiring every user to know a network's name in order to connect. In practice, however, many computers and devices still detect networks without broadcast SSIDs. In short, *a hidden SSID is not a substitute* for [proper Wi-Fi security](http://www.ehow.com/how_2253625_secure-wireless-router.html).