How to find and change your network security key
A network security key is an essential component of any Wi-Fi network. After all, devices connected to the same one gain access to each other. Thus, unknown or hostile devices could compromise files and your online activity. The network security key is responsible for curbing unauthorized attempts to join a Wi-Fi spot. Additionally, some keys might be more sophisticated than others. Therefore, your key can significantly uplift the security of your network if you follow the modern standards.
What is a network security key?
A network security key is a more technical term for your Wi-Fi password. It is the combination you provide when establishing a connection with a network. You will preload familiar devices with the key, meaning that you won’t need to provide it manually.
However, this description explains only the mere surface behind network security keys.
They curate the exchange between your network and devices. Thus, security keys impact how sheltered your network is. For instance, if one uses WEP security keys, their networks are susceptible to intruders, piggybacking, and hacking. Thus, you should know which standards are the best for keeping your password and data safe.
Types of network security keys
The purpose of network security keys is to protect users, their online activities, and confidential data. Here are some of the key types that you should be able to identify:
- WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy). The purpose of WEP was to make the security of wireless networks equivalent to wired ones. It served its aim for years until it retired in 2004. Although you can still find it via network settings, it is an outdated option. It has many security flaws, and using it makes networks susceptible to hacking.
- WPA and WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access). WPA emerged as a much more secure and efficient successor to WEP. It resolved the flaws in WEP but brought a set of new issues as well. Thus, WPA2 became the new-and-improved version, requiring the use of AES. The latter encryption takes network security to a new level. For now, it is the best option for home networks.
- WPA3. It is the newest network security key type available. WPA3 has many advantages, like curbing the dangers of open networks. For instance, WPA2 would only encrypt traffic for password-protected networks. WPA3 resolves this issue, boosting the security of open networks. However, the new standard has also faced flaws, like the Dragonblood vulnerability.
How to find your network security key?
Depending on your device, there are several paths for finding your network security key. Also, its name might differ, and you can find it under the WPA key, security key, or passphrase.
If you have not made any configurations, you can find your network security key on your router. You will notice it on a small sticker at the back of the router or in its manual.
If that information is no longer accurate, you can follow the steps below.
On Windows 10:
- Open the Start menu.
- Click Network Connection.
- Navigate to Network and Sharing Center.
- Click on the wireless network icon.
- Select Wireless Properties.
- Open the Security tab.
- Pick Show Characters, and you should see your network security key.
- Open the search function by clicking the magnifying glass at the top-right menu bar.
- Look for Keychain Access.
- Find your Wi-Fi network in the keychain access screen.
- Click on your network.
- Mark Show Password to see the network security key.
- You will also need to provide your Mac password to access the key.
- Open Settings, go to Connections, and then Wi-Fi.
- Select your network.
- Scan the QR code to find out your Wi-Fi password.
Please note that these instructions may not apply to all Android devices.
- Open Settings and then Wi-Fi.
- Tap the i icon next to your network for more information.
- Copy and paste the router’s IP address into a new browser tab.
- Provide your router’s login credentials to learn the password.
How to change your network security key?
If you want to change your network security key, follow these steps:
- Type your router’s IP address into a browser tab and press Enter.
- Find a section for wireless, wireless settings, or wireless security.
- The best option for home networks is WPA2. Select it.
- Enter the new network security key.
- Confirm your changes if necessary.
Picking the best network security key
Your network security key needs to be a strong password. Here are some tips for creating the most secure passwords for your Wi-Fi:
- Change your default password. Some router manufacturers might provide default passwords online, meaning that an attacker could retrieve them from there.
- Use unpredictable patterns. Do not include actual words or components like your birth date.
- The password should be complex. Add uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
- Pick lengthy combinations. Your password should be at least ten characters long.
- Change password if compromised. Set a new network security key once you notice unknown activity or devices on your network.
Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.