Everything You Should Know About a Network Security Key
No matter how many online safety standards you are practicing, your internet activities, digital signatures, passwords, likes and dislikes on social media, payment details and all other pieces of information available online are likely exposed to vulnerabilities. However, a strong Network Security Key, or what we commonly call a Wi-Fi password, can cover you with an extra layer of protection against cyber crimes and hacking. Read on and find out more about a network security key, its primary role in your internet safety, types of protocols, and ways to reveal these passwords using different devices.
What is a Network Security Key?
Network Security Key is a password or digital signature that authorizes you to access a wireless network. It enables a secure connection between the user and the network device providing access.
While you may have taken it to be the second name of your Wi-Fi password, remember its significant role in securing your online privacy and preventing unwanted access.
Why do you need a strong Wi-Fi Password?
A Wi-Fi password is of profound importance because it:
- ensures online safety and security.
- prevents leakage of a user’s online activities like surfing the web, online gaming, and communication.
- protects crucial information like social security number, credit card numbers or home address.
What happens if you have a weak Wi-Fi Password?
A weak wifi-password can be easily penetrated. As a result:
- Attackers can access and misuse your confidential data.
- Anybody can share your private data on open platforms like social sites and web pages.
- Hackers can sell your data on the dark web for legal or illegal purposes.
- Cybercriminals can use your identity to advance or fund serious crimes.
How many types of Network Security Keys are there?
There are three major types of network security keys.
1. WEP: Wired Equivalent Privacy
This security protocol was basically designed to secure the Wireless Local Area Networks (WLAN). On a scale of 1-5, WEP will usually get an average rating of 2, because it’s the least secure encryption tool when compared to WPA and WPA2.
2. WPA: Wireless Protected Access
This internet security protocol maintains security and privacy by using TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocols). Considering this, you can think of WPA protocols as an upgrade of WEP, which is ultimately stronger and lesser exposed to vulnerabilities and identity thefts.
3. WPA2: Wireless Protected Access II
Wireless Protected Access 2 is an advanced version of WPA and utilizes an added shield for digital protection. Like a VPN, it is also based on AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) technology, which means WPA2 will require a hacker to put in more effort to cause data breaches, usually decades.
To keep your online experience secure and private, wireless encryption tools are just as important as the strength of your Wi-Fi password.
How to find your Network Security Key?
Find your Wi-Fi password on a router:
When you initially buy a Wi-Fi or bring home a similar device, your devices ask you for a Wi-Fi password before you can surf the internet. There are two ways to find this network security key via the router:
- Check the hardware. Your device or modem will have this code labelled under one of these tags: passphrase, password, security key, or WPA. Unless changed by the first user, it will be a string of random alphanumeric characters and symbols.
- Check the software, webpage or the paper manual accompanying your device. Wi-Fi devices and similar hardware do carry a user’s guide. The network security key is usually present inside the manual, on a portal or the company’s web page. Manufacturers or owners of the device usually take these steps to limit the access to your wireless network.
Find your Network Security Key on Windows:
Follow these 4 steps to find out your password on Windows PC or Laptop:
- On your computer, go to Control Panel → Network and Internet Option.
- Select ‘Manage Wireless Networks’ and select the particular network SSID connected to your device.
- Select the network name, then click on properties.
- Click the Security tab and checkmark the box with ‘Show characters’. It will instantly show you the network security key of your connected device.
Find your Network Security Key on MAC:
Follow these 4 steps to reveal the Wi-Fi password on a Mac device.
- Type Keychain Access in the search icon.
- In the Keychain Access screen, double click your wireless network.
- Checkmark the ‘Show Password’ box.
- Enter the Mac password to check the Network Security Key.
What is a Network Security Key Mismatch Error?
As mentioned earlier, your mobile, PC or laptop will ask you for a Wi-Fi password before you can connect, reconnect or access the internet. You are supposed to enter a combination of characters: alphabets (upper or lowercase), numbers, and symbols depending on the strength and complexity of the network key. Your device will either invalidate the password, prompt the ‘Network Security Key Mismatch Error’ or simply won’t connect.
How to fix the Security Key Mismatch error?
- Enter the correct and accurate Wi-Fi password. Disable the Caps Lock, then enter alphanumeric and special characters using correct upper and lower case letters as required.
- Reset your system, Wi-Fi device, and re-login by entering the correct password again. Whether on a PC or mobile, you may have to remove the previous details and start all over. When your device scans the Wi-Fi network, make sure to enter the right network name and password.
- Disable your third-party antivirus program since it might be blocking the new Wi-Fi network. Once your antivirus program is inactive, enter relevant network details. Enable your antivirus after connection.
- Check the compatibility of your mobile device, PC or laptop. Some Wi-Fi devices have strict security protocols while others are only compatible with updated versions of devices. In this case, you might have to make required updates to your device before connecting to a specific wireless network.
A Network Security Key is your first step towards digital protection and online freedom. Whether your device uses WEP, WPA or WPA 2, there are still chances for invasion when you are active online. In this case, a strong password, comprising a combination of characters: upper and lower case alphabets, numbers, and symbols used in a random sequence can ensure maximum cyber safety.