Wifi protected setup (WPS)
The Wifi protected setup (WPS) is a wireless network security standard that tries to make connections between a router and wireless devices in a faster and easier way. WPS works only for wireless networks that use a password that is protected with the Wifi Protected Access Personal (WPA) or Wifi Protected Access2 (WPA2) Personal security protocols. WPS does not work on wireless networks that use the disfavoured Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) security, which can be cracked easily by any hacker with basic skills.
In a standard setup, you can’t connect a wireless device to a wireless network until you know the network name (also named Service Set Identifier(SSID)) and its password (also called WPA-PSK key). If you want to connect a device, like your smartphone or a laptop, to your wireless network then on your device, you must first pick the network that you want to connect to and then enter its security password.
What can WPS do?
WPS can sometimes simplify the connection process. Here’s how WPS connections can be performed:
- First, press the WPS button on your router to turn on the discovery of new devices. Then select the network you want to connect to on your device. The device is automatically connected to the wireless network without entering the network password.
- Devices like wireless printers or range extenders have their own WPS button that can be used for making quick connections. These devices can be connected to a wireless network by pressing the WPS button on the router and then on those devices. There is no need to input any data during this process. WPS automatically sends the network password, and these devices remember it for future use. The devices will be able to connect to the same network in the future without using the WPS button again.
- A third method involves the use of an eight-digit PIN. All routers with WPS enabled to have a PIN code that is generated automatically and cannot be configured by the users. This PIN can be found on the WPS configuration page on your router. Some devices are without a WPS button but with WPS support they ask for that PIN. If the pin is entered, they authenticate themselves and connect to the wireless network.
- The last method also involves using an eight-digit PIN. Some devices without a WPS button but with WPS support generate a client PIN. This PIN can be entered in your router’s wireless configuration panels, and then the router will use it to add that device to the network.
The first two methods are fast but the last two methods do not provide any benefits regarding the time it takes to connect devices to your wireless network. The eight-digit PIN needs to be typed and typing the wireless network password is just slow. The fourth method of connecting to a wireless network is even slower because the router’s wireless configuration section needs to be accessed and the PIN is to be typed provided by the client device.
Advantages of WPS –
- WPS configures the network name (SSID) and WPA security key automatically for the access point having WPS enabled on the network.
- SSID security key or passphrase need not be known when connecting WPS-enabled devices.
- WPS keys are randomly generated so no one can guess or figure out your security key or passphrase.
- Long sequences of hexadecimal codes or passphrases need not be entered.
- Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) is used to securely exchange information and network credentials over the air, which is one of the authentication protocols used in WPA2.
Disadvantages of WPS –
- Network mode where wireless devices are communicated directly to each other without an access point is not supported by WPS.
- The WPS cannot be used if WiFi devices on the network are WPS certified or WPS-compatible.
- It is very difficult to add a non-WPS client device to the network as long sequences of hexadecimal characters are generated by the WPS technology.