What Does "WPS" on a Belkin Wireless Mean?
By Warren Davies
WPS stands for “Wi-Fi Proteted Setup,” although it was originally known as “Wi-Fi Simple Config.” It is a protocol – a language of sorts -- that computers use to talk to each other. Many people are intimidated by the technical jargon surrounding home network setup, and WPS was designed to make it easy for less technically inclined people to link their devices. However, it is vulnerable to certain “brute-force” hacking attacks.
WPS on the Router
Message lights on the Belkin router indicate the condition of the network connections. If the light is off, the connection is idle. If you see a blinking green light, the router is searching for a WPS device to connect to. This is what happens when you press the WPS button. A solid green light indicates a successful connection and a blinking amber light means the attempt to connect failed.
The advantage of WPS is its simplicity. Without knowing anything about network protocols or IP addresses, you can connect your computers and other devices to the router using the push button configuration, or PBC, or PIN method. To connect a computer to the router, you just need to connect to its network and enter the relevant PIN code. To connect a device with PBC, you just press the WPS button on the router and on the device, and then wait for them to connect.
If a hacker possesses the relevant software, a WPS network can be hacked in as little as a few hours. The flaw is that the first and second halves of the PIN are checked separately. If an incorrect PIN is entered, the router sends two “incorrect pin” messages back to the computer, one for each half of the PIN. A hacker is able to monitor these messages, meaning he is essentially cracking two shorter PINs rather than one large one.
If you want to disable WPS, you can do so from your router's administration area. Launch a browser, type “192.168.2.1” in the address bar and press “Enter.” Click “Login,” enter your password and click “Submit.” Click on “Wi-Fi Protected Setup” or “WPS,” click the “Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS)” drop-down menu and select “Disabled.” Click “Apply Changes” when you're done.
Warren Davies has been writing since 2007, focusing on bespoke projects for online clients such as PsyT and The Institute of Coaching. This has been alongside work in research, web design and blogging. A Linux user and gamer, warren trains in martial arts as a hobby. He has a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in psychology, and further qualifications in statistics and business studies.