Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) is a network security feature that was designed to make it easier for users to connect their wireless devices to a Wi-Fi network without needing to manually enter the network’s security passphrase (password).
It aims to simplify the process of adding new devices to a Wi-Fi network by allowing users to simply press a physical button on the router or enter a PIN code to establish a connection. This was particularly useful for devices that don’t have a keyboard for entering complex Wi-Fi passwords, such as some smart TVs, gaming consoles, and Wi-Fi-enabled printers.
However, over time, significant security vulnerabilities were discovered in the WPS protocol. One of the major issues is that PIN-based authentication can be exploited by attackers using brute-force attacks to guess the PIN. With a series of automated attempts, attackers can discover the correct PIN in a relatively short time, thereby gaining unauthorized access to the Wi-Fi network.
This essentially undermines the network’s security, making it easier for malicious individuals to access sensitive information or potentially perform other malicious activities. Due to these vulnerabilities, security experts generally recommend disabling WPS on your Wi-Fi router.
Here are a few reasons why you should consider disabling WPS.
WPS has well-documented vulnerabilities that have been exploited by attackers. One of the most notable vulnerabilities is the “PIN brute-forcing” attack.
In this attack, a malicious actor can repeatedly guess the eight-digit PIN used in WPS. Since the PIN is often susceptible to being guessed in a relatively short amount of time (due to its structure), an attacker can gain unauthorized access to the network. Once inside, they might intercept data, perform network attacks, or even compromise devices connected to the network.
No Longer Necessary
The primary motivation behind WPS was to simplify the process of connecting devices to a Wi-Fi network, especially those without keyboards or easy input methods. However, modern devices, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops, now offer more user-friendly interfaces for connecting to Wi-Fi networks.
The need for a simplified connection process has diminished as these devices can securely handle the entry of complex Wi-Fi passwords.
Better Security Practices
Using a strong, unique, and complex Wi-Fi password is a fundamental aspect of network security.
Disabling WPS encourages users to set strong passwords that are harder to guess or crack. Long and complex passwords, incorporating a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols, greatly enhance the security of your Wi-Fi network. This makes it significantly more difficult for attackers to perform dictionary or brute-force attacks to guess the password.
Some router manufacturers and security experts have openly advised users to disable WPS due to the security vulnerabilities associated with the protocol. This acknowledgment by the industry itself underscores the severity of the security risks and indicates that relying on WPS for network security is not advisable.
Alternative Connection Methods
Many modern routers offer alternative methods for connecting devices to Wi-Fi networks that are both secure and user-friendly. These methods might include QR code scanning, where the router generates a QR code that the device scans to establish a connection.
Some routers even provide dedicated mobile apps that streamline the connection process. These alternatives provide a safer way to simplify the device connection process without sacrificing security.
In summary, disabling WPS is recommended because of its inherent security vulnerabilities, the improved capabilities of modern devices, the availability of more secure connection methods, and the emphasis on strong Wi-Fi passwords. By prioritizing these security practices, you can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access and potential breaches of your Wi-Fi network.