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

Changing the SSID name may discourage hackers

closeup of a wireless router and a young man using smart phone on living room at home
CASEZY / Getty Images

Some Wi-Fi routers use a name called the Service Set Identifier—usually just referenced as 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" and AT&T routers use a variation of "ATT" plus three numbers.

Why Change the SSID?

People 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.

Each router's instruction manual contains slightly different instructions for changing the SSID, although the process in general is fairly common across the major router manufacturers. Exact names of menus and settings may vary depending on the specific model of router in use.

01
of 04

Log In to the Network Router

Router landing screen
A Motorola router from AT&T displays the landing page after you log in.

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. 

Routers use different IP addresses to access their control panels:

  • AT&T routers use 192.168.1.254
  • Linksys routers use 192.168.1.1
  • Netgear routers use http://www.routerlogin.com
  • Some routers use 192.168.0.1

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. 

Quick tip: One way to find your router's address is to check the default gateway. On a Windows PC, press Win+R to open the Run box, then type cmd to open a Command Prompt window. When the window opens, type ipconfig and review the resulting information for the IP address associated with your machine's default gateway. That's the address you'll type into your Web browser to access the router's admin panel.

02
of 04

Navigate to the Router's Basic Wireless Settings Page

Wireless config
Wireless configuration page for a Motorola router using AT&T's broadband service. ​

Find the page within the router's control panel that manages configuration of home Wi-Fi networks. Each router's language and menu placement will differ, so you must either refer to documentation or browse the options until you find the right page.

03
of 04

Choose and Enter a New SSID

Router configuration screen
Insert a new SSID and, if necessary, a new password to connect to your home Wi-Fi network.

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.

Click Save to commit your changes, which take effect immediately.

04
of 04

Re-Authenticate to Wi-Fi

When you commit the changes in the router control panel, they take effect immediately. You'll need to update the connection for all your devices that used the previous SSID and password combination.