What Is WPS? Wireless Router Features
Most modern routers come with a WPS function you may have seen as part of your wireless printer’s or smartphone’s features list. But what exactly is WPS? Do you need to keep it active? Are there any benefits to using it? This short guide will answer all of your questions about WPS and its uses.
What is WPS, and why was it made?
WPS stands for Wi-Fi Protected Setup. It was introduced in 2006 by the Wi-Fi Alliance. This organization promotes the use of Wi-Fi and issues certificates of compliance with current wireless standards. WPS’s purpose was to simplify the long and sometimes confusing pairing process between a wireless router and supported devices.
Before WPS, you couldn’t establish a wireless link without knowing the router’s network name or SSID and a password or WPA-PSK key. You had to type each one manually, which could take a while. WPS eliminates this need by automatically pairing a device.
Some WPS-compliant devices will show a list of available networks, and selecting one will initiate the pairing. Others will connect automatically. There’s also a method where either the router or the device generate an eight-digit PIN you enter into the other’s interface, but that method defeats the purpose of expediency.
What kinds of devices use WPS?
Wireless printers and smartphones are the most popular WPS-compatible gadgets, but it’s also used to connect TVs, repeaters, Blu-ray players, and range extenders. You’ve probably encountered WPS many times before without realizing it. Some manufacturers support the technology under different names like Push ‘n’ Connect or Quick Secure Setup.
How to activate WPS?
Turning WPS on is a simple matter of finding its button on your router and pressing it. Where the button is positioned and how it looks depends on your router’s manufacturer. Some have large letters while others use two circular arrows, the official symbol for WPS. Keep in mind that there might be no label at all or that a single button shares more than one function, including WPS. Consult the user’s manual if you’re having trouble.
What are the benefits and risks of WPS?
WPS is a much more straightforward way of connecting wireless devices to your router than traditional methods. It enables you to establish a link with various devices without having to keep track of lengthy passwords or the network’s name. People with little experience or enthusiasm for tech appreciate it since pairing is effortless, takes seconds, and doesn’t require them to memorize or write down login info.
On the other hand, WPS isn’t a secure technology. Some routers generate the eight-digit PIN mentioned earlier, whether you use it or not. The combination is stored in two blocks of four digits instead of a single one, which makes cracking the code relatively easy. A hacker with little experience could brute force it, i.e., try every possible set of two four-digit codes to gain entry. While it’s unlikely that someone would want to gain access to your printer or home entertainment system in that way, it is a possibility.