What is Wi-Fi Protected Setup & How Does it Work?
A Wi-Fi protected setup (WPS) was first developed by Wi-Fi Alliance. This setup helps those who don’t get along with technology. It’s a feature designed to make the process of connecting to a wireless network from your PC or any other device easier.
This guide explains what a WPS is, how does it work, and if it really protects your home network from outside threats.
What is Wi-Fi Protected Setup?
WPS makes a connection between the wireless device and the router easier. It works with wireless networks only. It requires a password and it’s encrypted with WPA2 security protocols. A WPS does not work if your wireless network uses WEP security protocols.
It allows you to skip the process of connecting to a network and entering a password. This technology makes it easier to configure a wireless network using a network name and password. It also creates a secure WPA data encryption and authentication.
Over the years, wireless networks have evolved. Traditionally, a user had to manually create an SSID name. Then, it was required to manually enter the security key on the access point as well as the client’s end. This was mandatory to prevent unwanted access to the network.
If you don’t have background knowledge of Wi-Fi devices, you can’t configure the device. No non-technical user can comprehend this. If you are not familiar with IP address conflict, it’s highly likely you won’t know how to configure devices.
How Does It Help?
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Ways to Network the Setup with WPS
There are three ways to connect the WPS:
Push Button Configuration
Most WPS networks allow you to connect multiple devices to the network by the push of a button. The router or access point has a physical button and so do other devices. During the setup, unauthorized devices can join the network.
All WPS networks require a unique Pin for each wireless device for joining the network. The PIN is usually labeled on your device. This ensures only authorized devices are added to the network. The network encrypts data and authenticates each device joining the network. It’s the most secure way of establishing a connection.
Near Field Communication
This interface transfers network settings to a new device. There is no need to enter the PIN manually. This method prevents unauthorized devices to enter the network. It’s an optimal method for protecting access points.
Advantages of WPS
Here are some advantages of a Wi-Fi protected setup.
- Automatically configures the SSID and security key
- No need to enter the credentials when connecting WPS enabled devices.
- Randomly generated keywords are hard to guess
- Protected by WPA2 authentication
- Supported by Windows Vista
A WPS mandates the use of the pin code of your router regardless of your Internet provider. It could be the Charter Internet or any other ISP. The router generates this pin even if you are not using it. Security experts say a WPS pin is insecure. It’s vulnerable to attacks.
The 8-digit pins are stored in two blocks of 4 digits each. The access point checks the first 4 digits separately from the last four. Cybercriminals can brute force the first four digits and move on to the next block. With the right tools, they can brute force the entire pin within 10 hours.
A hacker can pull this off within a day. Once they have your pin, it’s easy to connect to your network and locate the security key. At this point, no matter how encrypted the router, it doesn’t matter. The criminal can get complete access to your network.
So, Should You Use It?
A WPS is all about creating an easy and secure way to connect your wireless devices to the home network. If you are security conscious consumer, stay away from this tool.
A standard WPA2-PSK protected password offers similar protection as a WPS pin/push button. It’s rather safer. Most leading providers rent WPA2-PSK protected equipment to their customers. If your router has WPA2-PSK encryption, consider yourself protected.
While a WPS may make your life easier, it is also vulnerable to attacks. Additionally, it’s difficult to use with some devices. If you have a WPS enabled router, it’s best to turn it off for security reasons. Some devices don’t allow disabling. In that case, change your access point or router.
Here are some frequently asked questions about WPS: