Wireless security and WPS

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You may have the newest router available on the market with the latest security encryption and a strong complicated password, but you may have forgotten something.  Did you know most likely there is a WPS button on your router which can allow a hacker to get into your wireless network much easier than hacking the wireless password you have in place?

Let’s start by understanding what WPS is.  WPS is an acronym for Wireless Protected Setup.  This is designed to make connecting devices to our wireless networks much easier by pressing the WPS button on the router, then within 30 seconds pressing the WPS button on the device in which you want to connect to your wireless network.  No passwords required.

Here in lies the problem; all a hacker would have to do is hack the WPS button on your wireless router, tricking the router into thinking the WPS button was pressed, then their laptop can connect to your wireless network.  This is so much easier and faster than hacking the wireless key which could take years with today’s computing power, the complex algorithms and assuming you have a really strong password.  Using WPS button we can potentially hack any wireless network within a couple hours or less.

So in my opinion, WPS was designed out of laziness.  We all want life to be easier, so we sacrifice our own security in the name of convenience.  I strongly recommend disabling your WPS button.  It’s not a huge task to add a device to your wireless network, and if you really had to use WPS to connect a device, you can enable WPS just for the duration of setting up that device, then once the device is connected, disable WPS on your router again.  Here’s how to do it.

Each router will look different, but somewhere in the router configuration screen you will find a WPS configuration option where you can choose “Enabled” or “Disabled”.  It will be “Enabled” by default.  Choose “Disabled” from the drop down menu or radio button (Depending on your setup) and then be sure to click “Apply” or “Save”.  In the case of the image above, there is one to disable under the Wireless 5Ghz tab and another that must be disabled separately under the Wireless 2.4Ghz tab.  Be sure to do both if it applies to you and save each time.

Congratulation, you are now safe from hackers going after your WPS button.  As long as you’re using a relatively new router with WPA-2 encryption with a strong password that does not include solely a dictionary word and is at least 10 characters long.

About Daniel Gauthier

work as a peace officer in various forms. Daniel wrote a book in 2009 called “Tech-Knowledgy” which got him on television and radio a few times. The concept behind the book was “to level the playing field between computer techs and non-techies so they don’t get take advantage of”. Daniel has a couple certifications including MCP and A+; he is preparing to write the Network+ exam and has studied CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) and CHFI (Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator). Daniel has run his own computer service business “TwinBytes” since 2004. He has done a few talks on cyber security and generally enjoys training, educating and helping others.