Wi-Fi Protected Setup

What Does Wi-Fi Protected Setup Mean?

Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) is a communications protocol designed to help facilitate the setup of wireless networks in homes and small offices. It is geared toward users and groups that are not familiar with Wi-Fi configuration. WPS allows devices to be easily added to a network while providing a secure connection.

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Techopedia Explains Wi-Fi Protected Setup

In 2007, the Wi-Fi Alliance introduced the WPS certification program, previously known as Wi-Fi Simple Config. The standard supports Wi-Fi certified devices under the 802.11 set of protocols.

The WPS protocol categorizes wireless devices, as follows:

  • Enrollees: Devices seeking connection to the network
  • Registrars: Devices that can connect and disconnect devices
  • Access points (AP): A medium between enrollees and registrars with registrar capabilities

APs that are WPS certified use a personal identification number (PIN) and button to connect devices. The PIN, located on the wireless device display, must be entered at the AP, or vice versa. Buttons may be physical or virtual and must be pushed to connect two or more devices.

Unfortunately, WPS is prone to brute-force attacks, which can allow other devices to connect to a network. One attack may last up to four hours until the perpetrator figures out the correct PIN. This vulnerability can be countered by imposing restrictions or disabling the WPS feature after several incorrect attempts to input the PIN. However, in some devices, the WPS feature is not disabled if it is turned off.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.