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What is Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS)?

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The double-edged sword of life in the modern world is that everything can connect wirelessly, which often leaves us open to easier attacks. WPS can help mitigate this risk for those who aren’t tech-savvy with just the press of a button on your router.

What is Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS)?

As everything has become more interconnected, network security has become increasingly important on a day-to-day basis, especially as things move towards a complete work-from-home environment. Whether it’s protecting your email and social media passwords, or your company’s data, there is a real and present need for cybersecurity.

The problem, however, is that not everyone is necessarily tech-savvy, and complex security protocols and technical standards can sometimes prevent us from protecting ourselves. So, for example, if someone is having trouble connecting to their printer wirelessly using security standards, they may be so frustrated that they connect without any security standards, such as using the same password for everything.

WPS is an attempt to solve this problem regarding Wi-Fi signals. Specifically, it allows people to create a secure connection between two devices using Wi-Fi without requiring a lot of technical knowledge. The only caveat is that both devices must use the WPA or WPA2 security standard.

Originally introduced in 2006 by Cisco, WPS has become a fairly standard feature for many devices that use Wi-Fi, and virtually every device you buy today should have this capability.

Why use WPS? Is it safe?

In the end, a lot of it comes down to convenience, especially as we become increasingly inundated with having to remember dozens of passwords. Even with password managers, it can become quite a frustrating task to re-enter a password for every device you log in with.

This problem is compounded by the fact that some device interfaces are just plain awful or incredibly difficult to access without a good set of tools. For example, most Wi-Fi range extenders require you to log into their administration page, which itself may sometimes require you to use an Ethernet cable. Then there is the problem of finding their login page, login details and setting them up on something new.

All of this can lead to a ton of frustration for those who aren’t tech-savvy and can end up having the device sitting in a corner unused. This is where WPS Quick Setup can help as it can connect two devices with, essentially, a push of a button.

That being said, there are some pretty serious concerns when it comes to WPS, particularly around brute force attacking a WPS device’s PIN. This means that you should disable WPS on your device if you are not using it or check the provider’s website to see if they have fixed the PIN code vulnerability.

It should be noted that WPA3 made WPS a bit more secure. (However, even if you have WPA3 security, chances are your router also has WPA2 enabled for backward compatibility.)

How to use WPS

Broadly speaking, there are two main ways to connect to WPS devices: using a button and/or using the PIN code, as mentioned earlier.

The button is usually the simpler of the two options, especially since it doesn’t require you to find or use any sort of admin page. Instead, all you have to do is press two WPS buttons: the one on your router and the one on the device you want to connect to, in that order. It works the same way as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi pairing on your phone, except the router has to come first for it to be discovered.

Not all devices have a WPS button, although it’s arguably much more secure than a PIN. To do this, you will simply need to enter the authentication PIN, usually on your router page or stuck to the device, when prompted on the admin page. It’s a bit more complicated than the button, but it’s the only alternative if there isn’t one.

Should you use WPS?

Whether you should use WPS depends on the convenience you want. WPS poses some security concerns, but it can make it much easier for you to connect devices like printers and televisions to your network. At least WPA3 has strengthened the security of WPS.

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