Advantages & Disadvantages of WPS (WiFi Protected Setup)

WiFi Protected Setup (WPS) is a standard for the easy and secure establishment of a wireless network. Traditionally, users would have to manually create a wireless network name (SSID), and then manually enter the security key on both the access point and client to prevent unwanted access to their wireless network. This whole process requires the users to have background knowledge of the WiFi devices and the ability to make the necessary configuration changes. With WPS, it will automatically configure a wireless network with a network name (SSID) and strong WPA data encryption and authentication. WPS is designed to support various WiFi certified 802.11 products ranging from access points, wireless adapters, WiFi phones, and other consumer electronics devices.

WPS can be Enabled using 2 Options

  1. PBC (Push button configuration) Method, in which the user simply has to push a button, either an actual or a virtual one, on both WPS devices to connect.
  2. PIN (Personal Identification Number) Method, in which a PIN has to be taken either from a sticker label or from the web interface of the WPS device. This PIN will then be entered into the AP or client WPS device to connect.

Advantages of WPS

  • WPS automatically configures the network name (SSID) and WPA security key for the access point and the WPS-enabled client devices on a network.
  • You do not need to know the SSID and security key or passphrase when connecting WPS-enabled devices.
  • No one can guess or figure out your security key or passphrase because the keys will be randomly
  • No predictable passphrases or long sequences of hexadecimal to enter.
  • Information and network credentials are securely exchanged over the air using the Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP), one of the authentication protocols used in WPA2.
  • WPS has been integrated and supported in Windows Vista (currently, Windows Vista only works in Registrar mode).

Disadvantages of WPS

  • It does not support “ad hoc” mode or network where wireless devices are communicated directly to each other without an access point.
  • All of the WiFi devices on the network must be WPS certified or WPS-compatible, otherwise, you will not be able to take advantage of the ease of securing the network.
  • Difficult to add a non-WPS client device to the network because of the long sequences of hexadecimal
    characters generated by the WPS technology.
  • This technology is fairly new, so not every vendor will support the WPS technology.

Facts about WPS

  • WPS is a non-proprietary specification that will be a certified technology controlled by WiFi Alliance.
  • WPS is an optional certification program for WiFi Certified products.
    • Not all WiFi Certified products will include WPS support, users need to look for the WiFi Protected
      Setup logo or term on the products to ensure that the product is WPS compatible.
  • There are 2 primary methods used in the WiFi Protected Setup:
    • PIN entry – a mandatory method of setup for all WPS certified devices.
    • Push-button configuration (PBC) – an actual push button on the hardware or through a simulated
      push button in the software. (This is an optional method on the wireless clients).
  • If you are using the PIN method, you will need a Registrar (access point/wireless router) to initiate the
    registration between a new device and an active access point/wireless router. (Note: The PBC method
    may also need a Registrar when used in a special case where the PIN is all zeros).
  • WPS is NOT a new security feature – it makes the existing security features easier to configure.
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