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Are you still using the default network name that came with your Wi-Fi router? Here’s why you should consider updating it.

Why Are Default Wi-Fi Names a Security Risk?

Every component of your home network can be a security risk if that component is poorly managed. Overall, your Wi-Fi network name (or SSID) is less of a security risk than, say, using really outdated encryption or a very old router that no longer receives security updates.

Nonetheless, there are some very good reasons to change your SSID away from the default one that came with your router.

The default names communicate information about the router itself. Depending on the manufacturer and the default naming scheme, the default SSID can easily tell somebody what brand and model the router is.

In the case of default names that include the model name (or that were used for particular models or generations of routers for a particular manufacturer), the default name can give away security vulnerabilities. Advertising that your router is both ancient and no longer receiving security updates isn’t ideal.

You can’t completely hide the manufacturer—as the manufacturer identity is part of the MAC address openly broadcast by your Wi-Fi router—but you can at least obfuscate it and stop advertising what particular model you have.

Common and default names also make it easier for people to use automated table-based Wi-Fi cracking tools against your home network.

Further, using a default Wi-Fi SSID signals, “This person doesn’t know, or care, about network security.” That’s not exactly the kind of message you want to send to people war driving or otherwise trying to attack your network.

In short, given how trivial it is to change your router’s SSID, there’s no good reason not to ditch a default name. No need to keep it compact either, SSIDs can be surprisingly long.

Take These Further Steps to Secure your Wi-Fi Router

As far as securing your home network goes, changing your SSID away from the default is a worthwhile but minor effort—more like making sure the upstairs windows are locked than reinforcing the front door.

If you’re already thinking about home network security, we’d encourage you to make sure you’ve checked all of the following off your security audit list, too, as they’re even more important.

First, make sure your router is up-to-date both in both hardware and firmware. If your router is some ancient bargain Wi-Fi 5 or older unit, it’s time to send it to the great recycling plant in the sky and buy a new router that supports current security standards and is actively updated.

Then run through this security checklist to ensure you’re not leaving your router vulnerable in easily preventable ways. Simple measures like disabling remote access, changing the default administrative login, and so on, go a long way towards securing your home network.

And while we’re talking about updating your SSID and perhaps your entire router, now’s a great time to stop using the default password that came with your router (or the same dusty old password you’ve been using for a decade) and replace your Wi-Fi password with a long and strong one.

The Best Wi-Fi Routers of 2022

Best Wi-Fi Router Overall
Asus AX6000 (RT-AX88U)
Best Budget Router
TP-Link Archer AX3000 (AX50)
Best Cheap Router
TP-Link Archer A8
Best Gaming Router
Asus GT-AX11000 Tri-Band Router
Best Mesh Wi-Fi Router
ASUS ZenWiFi AX6600 (XT8) (2 Pack)
Best Budget Mesh Router
TP-Link Deco X20
Best Modem Router Combo
NETGEAR Nighthawk CAX80
Best VPN Router
Linksys WRT3200ACM
Beat Travel Router
TP-Link AC750
Best Wi-Fi 6E Router
Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000
Profile Photo for Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Senior Smart Home Editor at How-To Geek. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at How-To Geek, Review Geek, LifeSavvy, and Lifehacker. Jason served as Lifehacker's Weekend Editor before he joined How-To Geek.
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