A Guide to Changing the Wi-Fi Name (SSID) on a Network Router

Changing the SSID name may discourage hackers

Network cables
Jill Ferry Photography / Getty Images

 Home Wi-Fi routers use a name called the Service Set Identifier (SSID) to identify themselves on the local network. Manufacturers set a default SSID for their routers at the factory and typically use the same name for all of them. Linksys routers, for example, usually all have the default SSID of "Linksys."

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Why Change the SSID?

 People may want to change a default Wi-Fi name for any of several reasons:

  • To avoid having their router and network confused with those of neighbors who are also using the same default names.
  • To improve the security of their home network. The name choice does not increase protection by itself. Nonetheless, using a custom name can deter a network attacker because it indicates that router is being more conscientiously administered than other routers that use generic defaults. In a typical residential neighborhood with many home network targets to choose from, attackers are more likely to single out the weakest networks first.
  • To personalize a home network. The SSID can be seen by anyone nearby who scans for Wi-Fi signals from their phone or another mobile device.

Here's how to change the SSID on a typical home network router. Exact names of menus and settings may vary depending on the specific model of router in use.

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Log In to the Network Router

Example - Router Administrative Console Home Page - Linksys WRK54G
Example - Router Administrative Console Home Page - Linksys WRK54G.

Determine the router's local address and log in to the router's administrative console through a web browser. Enter the currently active username and password when prompted. Linksys routers usually have the web address, the "admin" username, and no (blank) password.

Check the documentation or website of other router manufacturers for the local address and default login credentials of their products. An error message appears if the wrong login credentials are supplied. When successfully logged in, you should see a screen similar to the one shown here.

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Navigate to the Router's Basic Wireless Settings Page

WRK54G Router Console - Wireless Tab
WRK54G Router Console - Wireless Tab.

Navigate to the appropriate wireless settings section inside the router console where the SSID can be changed. In this example, the Basic Wireless Settings section of the Wireless tab at the top of the screen contains the Linksys router's SSID.

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Choose and Enter a New SSID

WRK54G Router Console - Wireless Setting SSID
WRK54G Router Console - Wireless Setting SSID.

Choose a suitable network name and enter it. An SSID is case sensitive and has a maximum length of 32 alphanumeric characters. Care should be taken to avoid choosing words and phrases offensive to the local community. Names that may provoke network attackers such as "HackMeIfUCan" and "GoAheadMakeMyDay" should also be avoided.

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Save the New SSID

WRK54G - Router Console - Wireless SSID Change
WRK54G - Router Console - Wireless SSID Change.

The new SSID is not activated on the router until you save or confirm the change. In this example, click the Save Settings button at the bottom of the page shown to have the new setting take effect. In the case of this Linksys router, you will see a confirmation window appear briefly to confirm the change was made successfully. The new SSID takes effect immediately. Rebooting the router is not required.

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