Q:

Why is the SSID required to connect to a wireless network?

A:

Quick Answer

The SSID that is required to connect to a wireless network is a combination of up to 32 letters and numbers that differentiate one wireless network from the others. A user needs to identify the wireless network and, if necessary, input a password to be able to connect to it.

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Full Answer

If a person wants to use multiple devices and exchange data between them on the same wireless network, those devices need to share the same SSID. When configuring a wireless network, a user can access the settings window of the wireless router via a web browser and assign a specific SSID value to the network. Alternatively, the SSID can be configured automatically by ignoring the SSID field in the settings window. To enhance the security of a wireless network, it is possible to disable the automatic broadcasting of the SSID value through wireless access points.

When devices on a wireless network exchange data, they send the data in packets, while the headers of those packets have the SSID value attached to them. This serves as a means of protection because it prevents the devices from outside the network from accessing the data without the necessary security information. However, the SSID is not perfectly secure since it’s possible to ascertain the necessary information by analyzing the packets with an 802.11 analysis tool.

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