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 Overall, your Wi-Fi network name (or SSID) is less of a security risk than, say, using really outdated encryption or a very old router that no longer receives security updates.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