What is (Wireless / Computer) Networking?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

In the world of computers, Networking is the practice of linking two or more computing devices together for the purpose of sharing data. Networks are built with a mix of computer hardware and computer software.

What Is a Network Name?

Did you know a network name is a text string that devices use to reference a particular computer network? These strings are, strictly speaking, separate from the names of individual network devices and the addresses they use to identify each other. However, several different forms of network naming exist and it's fairly common (even in the IT world) for people to blur the distinction between computer and network names in casual conversation.


Wi-Fi networks support a type of network name called SSID. Wi-Fi access points and clients are each always assigned an SSID to help identify each other. When a person speaks of wireless network names, they typically are referring to SSIDs.

Definition: An SSID is the name of a wireless local area network (WLAN). All wireless devices on a WLAN must employ the same SSID in order to communicate with each other.

The SSID on wireless clients can be set either manually, by entering the SSID into the client network settings, or automatically, by leaving the SSID unspecified or blank. A network administrator often uses a public SSID, that is set on the access point and broadcast to all wireless devices in range. Some newer wireless access points disable the automatic SSID broadcast feature in an attempt to improve network security.

SSIDs are case sensitive text strings. The SSID is a sequence of alphanumeric characters (letters or numbers). SSIDs have a maximum length of 32 characters.
Also Known As: Service Set Identifier, Network Name
Examples: Wardrivers sometimes scan for the SSIDs being broadcast by wireless LANs, then set that SSID on their client to attempt to join that WLAN. Knowing the SSID name does not necessarily mean that rogue clients will be able to join the network. It depends on how the network administrator has configured their WLAN, particularly WEP security.

Change the Default SSID on Wireless Access Points and Routers

Wi-Fi access points and routers ship with a pre-defined network name (SSID) set by the manufacturer.

The SSID can be accessed from within these products' Web-based or Windows-based configuration utilities. Common examples of pre-defined SSIDs are simple names like "wireless," "netgear," "linksys," or "default." An SSID can be changed at any time, as long as the change is also made on all wireless clients.

To improve the security of your home wireless network, change the SSID to a different name than the default. Here are some recommended do's and dont's, based on best network security practices:

  • Don't use your name, address, birthdate, or other personal information as part of the SSID.
  • Likewise, don't use any of your Windows or Internet Web site passwords.
  • Don't tempt would-be intruders by using tantalizing network names like "SEXY-BOX" or "TOP-SECRET".
  • Do pick an SSID that contains both letters and numbers
  • Do choose a name as long or nearly as long as the maximum length allowed.
  • Do consider changing your SSID every few months.


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