What is the WPS Button on your router?

Getting the right router setup in your home is crucial to getting a high quality internet connection. Depending on which provider you’re with, the likelihood is that you’re going to have a different router based on your service.

However, on all of these routers you’re likely to find different buttons and functions, which are necessary if you’re ever going to reset your router or reconnect a device. You’ll also find a WPS button on your router, too. But what exactly does the WPS button do, and what exactly is WPS anyway?

What is the WPS Button on your router

Essentially, the WPS button is one the side of your router for the purpose of making it easier to connect to your devices. It will allow you to connect your device to your home internet without having to worry about entering your SSID and password.

And although nowadays more and more people are aware of what the WPS button does, not everyone knows. So, it’s important to understand how the WPS button works, and whether you should choose to use it or not.

What is WPS?

So, let’s start with what exactly WPS is. It stands for Wireless Protected Setup, and it’s been around for more than a decade now. It was introduced by tech conglomerate Cisco.

The whole point of WPS in the first place was to make it simpler to connect your devices to your home router. Why? Well, whilst it’s pretty simple to connect your devices together nowadays, it was a little more difficult and time consuming back in the day.

We still have the need to enter in the password for our routers, and for some people, that can be arduous and time consuming. This is especially true if you don’t know how to change your wifi password.

And whilst it was introduced to make things easier to connect together, it also has it’s fair share of critics too. It’s said that having WPS on your router can leave you vulnerable to hackers.

Password Entry

The way that most of us connect to our router – by entering a pin or a password into our device – is part of the WPS standard that was introduced back in 2006.

It’s fair to say that for the majority of us, this is still the best method to use to connect your device to your router. It’s very easy to do so, and you can change your pin to whatever you need it to be.

Push button

Now we come onto the WPS button that most people have a question about. Most of the time, you can simply press the button, and this will give you 2 minutes to connect your device to the router without having to worry about entering a password in.

In some cases, the WPS button itself might actually be used more than this. There are some models out there that actually use the WPS button to reset the device as well, so when you hold the button down, your router would reset to factory settings.

Do all routers have a WPS button?

The truth is that whilst not all routers out there will have a WPS button, many of them will. Nowadays, whilst not everyone wants to use a WPS button, you can still find it on some routers (for example, the Virgin media hub has a “Pair WPS” button on the front.

And whilst the majority of routers out there will have a WPS button, they aren’t without their critics. Let’s look at some of the potental downsides of WPS.

Criticisms of WPS

Wifi Bands

One criticism of the WPS button specifically is that it doesn’t give the option to choose which wifi band you want to connect to. Remember – the button was introduced in 2006, when the 5.0GHZ band wasn’t readily available on home routers.

Fast forward to the present and we have dual band routers at home, which have two different wifi bands that you can connect to. But when you press the button, you might not get the opportunity to pick between the two.

This can leave you connecting to the 2.4GHz band, which is the slower and less useful of the two. So, that’s one criticism about the fundamental use of the WPS button.

Physical Location

Another pretty common criticism that you might hear about the WPS button is that it’s too easy for someone to access. It’s right on the side of your router, so it’s very easy for pretty much anyone that can get physically close enough to use it if they want to.

This makes sense, but it’s also worth noting that most of us have the password we use printed on the side of our router too – and, we probably never bother to change it either. If you do want more security, then changing the password of your router is the best way to do this.

Hacking

Finally, probably the most prominent reason why people are dubious of WPS in the first place is that it might leave you liable to being hacked.

Essentially, WPS is vulnerable to what’s known as a brute force attack. As it sounds, this is quite simple an attempt to try every possible combination for your password to try and work it out. Now, this isn’t with the button, but the WPS password itself.

With a WPS password, it’s only actually 8 characters long, and even then it works by checking four digits at a time, twice over. This means that if someone is trying to brute force your password, they only need to get two sets of four combinations, and there’s only a limited combination of them possible (10,000, to be exact). One potential solution to this is by using WPA2 instead of WPS, which is a more secure and encrypted form of password.

Conclusion

All in all, the WPS button is pretty easy to understand, and it’s clear why it was introduced in the first place too. However with many folks now taking their online security more seriously, it might not be long before we see the button option phased out from the sides and front of our home hubs and routers.

Because of it’s simple use that has an easy workaround (simply entering your password), for many folks they choose to disable the WPS button on their home device. Although you’re unlikely to ever be hacked, it can add another level of security to your home internet.

About Nathan

Hello! I'm Nate. I work for an internet company during the week, so you'll probably see me on here jabbering about the internet and building websites, which is my main side hobby.

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