Simple hacker tools can easily sniff out Wi-Fi passwords from routers that have Wi-Fi Protected Setup enabled — quite possibly yours included.
Here’s how to protect your network — and even hack your own router to see whether it’s vulnerable.
Launched in 2007, Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) is a technology standard that’s intended to make setting up a Wi-Fi network less of a hassle. According to an article on the Wi-Fi Alliance (a consortium of Wi-Fi vendors) site,
“Wi-Fi Protected Setup enables typical users who possess little understanding of traditional Wi-Fi configuration and security settings to automatically configure new wireless networks, add new devices, and enable security. More than 200 products have been Wi-Fi CERTIFIED for Wi-Fi Protected Setup since the program was launched in January 2007.”
Without a doubt, WPS does make it very easy to add wireless devices to a network. Instead of a laborious, manual setup, WPS offers four simple methods for connecting wireless devices to WPS-enabled routers.
- 1. The PIN (Personal Identification Number) method is supported by Wi-Fi CERTIFIED routers. A short (just six to eight digits) PIN is either printed on a sticker somewhere on the router or is displayed in the router’s configuration software. The PIN serves as an alternate, low-security password separate from the router’s normal passphrase, which can be letters and numbers and up to 63 characters long.
To connect a laptop, phone, tablet, or other wireless device to a WPS-enabled system, simply enter the short PIN when prompted on the wireless device. (For example, press the network Connect button in Windows 7; your notebook will communicate with the router, and a PIN entry box should appear.) The router’s software then recognizes the new device and allows it to connect.
2. The pushbutton method requires pushing a physical button or clicking an on-screen graphical button on both the router and the device (such as a newer, wireless-enabled printer) that’s being connected to the network. Once both buttons are pushed, the devices negotiate and establish the connection.