Wi-Fi Protected Setup, popularly known as WPS, is a wireless network security standard provided by many wireless routers. It was designed and introduced in 2006 by Wi-Fi Alliance as an easier way to connect to WiFi. Although created more than a decade ago, many users want to know what is WPS and how to use it.
The protocol was invented to ease the wireless connection between the device and the wireless network for home users.
What is WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup)?
As mentioned above, WPS can simplify the connection process between your device and the wireless network. You can skip the standard username-password procedure to connect to your home’s wireless network when using it.
People who have trouble configuring network security at home can make the most of it. It can only work for the wireless network that have passwords encrypted using WPA2 or WPA Personal security protocols. If your wireless network is using WEP security protocol for encryption, then WPS will not work, and you will have to set up SSID for your network.
It can set up a secure network connection of the network and your device by creating an SSID and secure WPA data authentication on its own. All you need to do is press the WPS button on your router. If you ever thought ‘what is the WPS button on the router doing,’ now you have an answer for it.
How does WPS Work?
When you know what specific functionality is, you are more curious to learn how to use it. Similarly, now as you know what is WPS, you can learn how it works and can use it to connect your devices to Wi-Fi.
Way 1 – Pressing the WPS Button
You can find the WPS button on your router next to the Ethernet port. The button can be with some other name like Wi-Fi Simple Config, PBC, Push ‘n’ Connect, Wi-Fi Protected Setup, or Quick Secure Setup (QSS) depending on the manufacturer.
If you don’t find the button next to the Ethernet port, check the manual that came with the router. When found, press the WPS button so that the router turns on the new device discovery.
Enable it on the device to which you want to connect to the wireless network. You will be automatically connected to the wireless network in some time without entering the password or username (SSID/network name).
Note: Make sure Wi-Fi Direct or WPS related settings are enabled on the device you wish to connect to the wireless network of the router. You can find these settings under Wi-Fi Preferences in the Settings app on the phone. The functionality is not available for iOS devices.
You can connect to other devices like printers, scanners, and range extenders. All you need to do is find the WPS button and press it after your press router WPS button. Your devices will get connected to the network automatically. And next time you wish to use these devices, you need not connect them again.
Way 2 – Use PIN
If you don’t find the specific button on your router, you can use PIN and interface to connect using WPS. As in many devices, the WPS feature is supported, but the button is not physically available.
You can enter the configuration page via the router’s user interface and check the PIN there. Enter the same PIN on the device you wish to connect to the wireless network.
In many cases, this PIN is not allowed to be changed and remains the same till you change the router. However, some routers have an option to generate another PIN if required. This option depends on the router manufacturer and may differ.
Way 3 – Use Router Interface
You can use the router interface to connect your device with a wireless network via WPS. If the WPS button is missing on the router or you are not able to connect using it, then you can take this approach to connect to the wireless network.
Login to the router interface and go to the related settings. You can check the router manual to know where the WPS settings are present. In the settings, check for Push Button and press it. Once you press the Push Button, press the button on the client device within 2 minutes. The device will be connected to the wireless network post this.
If the client device doesn’t have a WPS button, you can use the client PIN generated by your device. Enter this PIN on the router interface to connect the device to the router’s wireless network.
Now, you know many different ways it works to connect your device to the wireless network. The first way is easy and can be done in less time. However, the other two ways require the same efforts and time needed to add SSID and password to connect to any wireless network. Here, you only save the SSID configuration time.
Which Devices Support WPS?
Once you know what is WPS, you will realize that the Windows system is supporting WPS from 2007 Windows Vista. All the later versions of Windows also support it.
When it comes to Android, it works with WPS since version 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich was launched in 2011. Later, all the subsequent versions of Android supported it. Although the operating system supports the functionality, sometimes the manufacturers customize it as per their wish. The devices like printer, scanner, and extenders have WPS buttons and thus, its functionality. This as well depends on the manufacturer.
iOS and Apple OS X does not support WPS. So, if you use Apple products, you may need to configure the SSID to connect to the wireless network.
As you know what is WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) and how it uses PIN to connect devices to wireless networks, you need to know the security flaws. In December 2011, a major security flaw was revealed concerning it. The flaw stated that any hacker or attacker could crack the PIN using the brute-force attack within a few hours, thus gaining access to your network. And once the PIN is accessed, gaining access to the secure key becomes easy for the attacker.
So, if you are not using the functionality, you can simply disable it from the router interface to avoid security attacks to your network.
How to Disable WPS?
You can disable WPS only if the router has provisions to do it. To disable it, login to your router interface and go to the configuration page.
Check on the checkbox which says Disable WPS and then click on Apply Changes to save the changes made.
Note: The setting option to disable WPS may differ in the case of different routers.
Once you disable it, you are safe from the brute-force attack on the WPS PIN. If you have a question in mind, ‘Should WPS be on or off?’, then the answer to this depends on your use.
In simpler terms, if you use the functionality too often to connect devices to the wireless network, then you will need it enabled. However, if you have SSID configured with a password, you don’t need it, and therefore disabling it is a better option.
WPS is a useful feature provided by many router manufacturers to simplify the wireless network connection to home users’ devices. However, with simplicity and ease of connection comes the security risk factor as well. The article covers all that one needs to know, right from what is WPS to how to use it.
You can also know about different devices supporting it. Make sure you check the manufacturer manual before proceeding with the configuration page on the router interface. As each router is different and may have different settings and options to configure it.