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What’s the best SSID (Wi-Fi network name)?

Network name: don't leave it on the default

Are you using the default SSID, the name given to your Wi-Fi network? Surely, that random name can’t be a security issue? Well, that may be the case and you should consider choosing something else.

What’s wrong with the default SSID?

First of all, let’s look at that default name. If it’s supplied by your broadband provider, chances are that the first few digits are the name of your provider, whether that be BT, Sky, Virgin Media or TalkTalk. If it’s not one from your broadband provider, then the SSID may contain the name of your router manufacturer.

The problem here is that this gives any potential hackers details of which router you may have – if there is a known weakness or ‘backdoor’, then they can take advantage of it, including knowing of any default passwords which may not have been changed. Worst still, BT often actually state in its SSID name the precise model of hub you’re using.

How to pick a better SSID

There are two things to avoid when choosing a Wi-Fi network name:

  1. Mentioning the product in the name (see above)
  2. Giving away who you are or where you live

Again, this all comes down to security – the latter makes it harder for people to identify where equipment is located. Imagine, if you have a lot of devices, all with Wi-Fi signals, telling potential burglars which house it’s all in.

“But, surely, the only Wi-Fi signal is from my router?”, you may ask, and everyone’s got one of those. For some that may be true, but there are potentially many others – Wi-Fi hotspots from phones and Wi-Fi Direct from many different types of products, to name a couple. In my case, for example, my phone has a Wi-Fi hotspot turned on, my router has a guest network and my wireless printer and TV both have Wi-Fi Direct connections too. All of which are potentially broadcasting their presence.

Broadcasting who these gadgets belong to may also give clues to hackers about a password. “Oh, yes, that’s the Jones’ house. Their cat is named Tibbles. And, yes, that’s their Wi-Fi password.”

Oh, and maybe don’t do as I do. All of my Wi-Fi names are based on Marvel characters. What’s wrong with that? It doesn’t identify who I am but it does connect all of those devices to one household.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun

Many people have fun with their Wi-Fi name, and some have even been known to use it to communicate with their neighbours.

Amusing examples are easily found online, with my favourites being:

  • Pretty Fly for a Wi-Fi
  • The Promised LAN
  • All Your Bandwidth Belong To Us
  • Wi-Fi is Coming
  • Iron LAN
  • Virus Infected Wi-Fi
  • Your Wi-Fi in in Another Castle

Just don’t get too elaborate. Some devices without keyboards occasionally require you to enter the Wi-Fi network’s name manually. If you’ve named yours after a Shakespeare sonnet, you could be there some time.

Now read this: BT Mobile Wi-Fi calling – how do I set it up?

About the author

David Artiss

Works for Automattic Inc., the company behind and Tumblr. Tech geek, international speaker and occasional PC Pro podcaster. Lover of Lego and video games.

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  • Just installed a Unbiqiti AP and have given it a new SSID. However, my existing routers are being switched off and I will replicate their SSIDs and passwords on the new AP. No need to log everything back on and a hacker will be trying to hack an AP that is not what it seems…