Networking: Cabled and Wireless Wi-Fi Networks

Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) also known as Quick Security Setup (QSS)

Routers that support Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) are a serious security threat unless the feature is disabled

A network router’s configuration settings are almost always accessed via a web browser by entering its specific IP address in number form ( e.g., 192.168.1.254) in the address bar from where they can be set manually. Just entering the router’s own IP Address in the address bar of a web browser – e.g., 192.168.1.254 – brings up the login webpage that requires its user name and password to be entered in order to access the router’s settings.

However, most recent ADSL modem routers have a feature called Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) or Quick Security Setup (QSS) that automates the setup process. In other words, WPS is a method of linking a device (computer, tablet, smartphone, repeater, etc.) to the network without being required to enter the wireless security password (encryption key).

WPS button on a Belkin N300 wireless ADSL modem router

WPS button on a Belkin N300 wireless ADSL modem router. Click on the image to view its full size

The router has a WPS button, shown in the image above. You press it to connect a new device automatically if the router’s security settings allow that to happen.

When it is enabled in the router’s settings, WPS is known to be vulnerable to password-cracking software if a password (registration) is necessary to connect a new device. The feature has three possible settings – 1. – To connect a new device automatically – 2. – To require a password to connect a new device – 3. – Never to connect a new device.

The setup page of a router’s wireless network settings in the image below shows the security settings and WPS options. WPS is Enabled and New stations are allowed (automatically).

Those are the most insecure settings.  If someone with a wireless device has access to the router, just pressing its WPS button connects that device to the network automatically.

The most secure settings are to have WPS disabled and the setting to never connect a new device enabled.

If you want to use WPS to connect a new device to the network, open the router’s settings using the login user name and password and enable the WPS and “Connect a new device automatically” settings. After you have finished using the new device, disable those settings.

Note that you should replace the router’s settings page’s default login user name and password with your own, because the default ones are the same for all of the routers made by a particular manufacturer.

Router security and WPS settings

Router security and WPS settings. Click on the image to view its full size.

Wi-Fi protected Access – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wi-Fi_Protected_Access

 

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