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What Is WPS and How Does It Work?

by Nikola Nikolovski
What Is WPS

Are you constantly wondering what is WPS and what does it do? Let's find out...

Want to set up a wireless router at home even with minimal technical expertise? By using WPS, anyone can do this easily and without any struggle at all. Below you will not just understand what WPS is, but know with which devices it will work. 

What Is WPS?

First and foremost, you will need to understand what WPS is. It is short for WiFi Protected Setup and it is a kind of wireless network security protocol that aims to make connecting to a router much easier and faster. It only works with networks that require a password, but only ones that are encrypted with WPA Personal or WPA2 Personal security standards. If your network uses WEP security, then WPS will not work, because this kind of security can be easily hacked, even by a beginner.

Normally, you cannot connect your device to the wireless network without giving the network name (or SSID) and the password (or called WPA-PSK key). Without typing in the information, you cannot connect to the WiFi. 

WPS makes this process much easier (no simpler way exists). All you need to do is to press the WPS button on the router to activate it. It was introduced on purpose especially for those who are scared of technology because of their lack of technical knowledge and know-how.

How Do You Connect To Your Router With WPS?

How Do You Connect To Your Router With WPS

There are three ways you can connect via WPS.

  1. Via The WPS Button 

Most of these routers allow you to connect one or more devices to the WiFi network simply by pushing the WPS button. Because the network becomes open while you are pressing it, devices of other people may also connect. 

  1. Via PIN

This kind of network is much more secure than the first because it requires you to enter a PIN. A unique password is assigned for your device and is displayed there as well. This ensures that only your own gadgets can connect to the network. Plus, the network also encrypts the data from each smartphone or computer and authenticates them when they connect to the network. 

  1. Via Near Field Communication

This way of connecting does not require manually entering a PIN but still does not allow just any device to enter the WiFi network. In this method, the network credentials are transferred to your gadget. It is the optimal method to connect to the network quickly but securely. 

What Are The Benefits Of WPS?

There are tons of reasons why you should opt for WPS, instead of the usual WiFi routers that use the more complicated setup process.

  • It Is Straightforward

With WPS, you can say goodbye to having to enter long passwords just to join your WiFi network. Some of them are complicated and combine small and capitalized letters (plus numbers) so they can be confusing at times. When you opt for WPS, all you need to do is press a button and you are connected in a matter of seconds. 

  • It Is Great For Non-techies

Not everyone has the skills to set up the router using their browser. WPS is the best solution especially for older people who have very little to no technical expertise. 

  • It Is Quicker

If you have moved or simply have too many devices to connect at one time, then WPS makes this process much simpler. Instead of having to type in the same password many times, all you need is to press the button and everything (from your phone to PC to smart TV) gets automatically connected.

What Are The Disadvantages Of WPS?

Disadvantages Of WPS

While it is ideal for many reasons, it has its disadvantages as well.

  • It Is Not 100% Secure

There have been cases of brute-force attacks that have left WPS vulnerable. While the chances are slim that you will be attacked, some people have decided to disable this feature entirely. This is because WPS generates a PIN even when you are using it but it is unsecure and can easily be hacked. 

The WPS mandates using your router’s PIN code, no matter who your Internet service provider is. The pins have 8-digits, in 2 blocks with 4 digits each. The access point checks the first 4 apart from the last. Expert hackers can easily brute force the whole PIN in as short as 10 hours. Once they have hacked into the network, they can get the security key and bypass the router’s encryption. They gain, thus, complete access to your home network.

  • Activation Can Be Done By Anyone

As long as the person can physically access your router, they can activate WPS and view the PIN on the top of the router. Even if it is activated only for a few minutes, they can gain access already. Because of this, you might want to place your router somewhere hidden and inaccessible to random guests or hand-workers.

  • It Does Not Work With WEP

WEP is the oldest security protocol, although WPA2 is now the most common out there. Still, some older devices might still only work with WEP. If this is the case, then WPS is not compatible.

The Verdict: Should You Use WPS?

The Verdict Should You Use WPS

WPS truly does sound wonderful, especially for those non-techies out there. But do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages? For most people, the answer is yes. Many people who would benefit from it because of its simplicity and ease of use do not normally conduct online transactions that might be vulnerable to hacking. 

If security is very important for you, then a router without WPS is the best solution for you. While disabling WPS decreases the chances of hacking, specific devices with less protection might keep it activated, even without you knowing it. If you handle sensitive data on your network, then this can be a serious issue. 

Even then, the chances of getting your home network are pretty low for most people, especially when you disable WPS it after setting up. So again, for most users, WPS definitely has more benefits than risks and remains to be a great way of making your life easier. 

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