Network security

What is a network security key? How to find it

  • A network security key is basically your Wi-Fi password – it’s the encryption key that protects your Internet.
  • There are three different types of network security keys: WEP, WPA, and WPA2, each more secure than the next.
  • The type of security key you choose, along with the strength of your password, determines how secure your network is against hackers.
  • Visit Insider’s Technical Reference Library for more stories.

If you’re new to setting up or troubleshooting your Wi-Fi connection, you might be wondering what a network security key is. Fortunately, this isn’t as confusing as it sounds – your network security key is basically just your Wi-Fi password.

Of course, it’s not that simple – if it was, we wouldn’t need another word for it. A network security key is a specific type password that allows your Wi-Fi router to communicate with the device you are using and allows you to use the Internet safely.

What you need to know about network security keys

Network security keys have become more sophisticated over time, and there are now several types that work in different ways. It can be important to know what type of network key your router is using to configure it and troubleshoot issues.

There are three common types of network security keys.

How to find your network security key

Depending on the security key you use, your password can be found in several different places. Most of the time, the default WEP keys are on a piece of paper that the network owner gave you with the router. The default WPA / WPA2 keys are usually printed somewhere on the side of your router, often on a sticker.

When configuring your router, you need to create a new password in order to remember it more easily. You can also enter and change your Wi-Fi password at any time.

man configuring router laptop

When setting up a new router, always change the password.

Kittichai Boonpong / EyeEm / Getty Images

If you’ve forgotten your Wi-Fi password, it’s not the end of the world. As long as your computer is already connected to the router, you can recover the password this way instead – it works on a Mac or on a PC. You can also share access with others on Apple devices, whether you are using a Mac or an iPhone.

How to create a secure password

Network security keys are an important part of protecting your network – and in a world where we do most of our business online, that protection is more important than ever.

Making sure you select the highest possible security network is part of it, but another part is selecting a good password. Experts say that a

strong password

possesses as many of the following qualities as possible:

  • Is 12 characters or more (the longer the better)
  • Uses a mix of numbers, letters and symbols
  • Does not use common substitutions (like zero for “O”, $ for “S”, and so on)
  • Does not use a simple keyboard path (like “asdfjkl”, “qwerty” or 123456)

Password PIN code security

Choosing an appropriate password is extremely important.

Thomas Trutschel / Getty Images

One of the most recommended ways to create a strong password is to make it a random combination of words that you don’t usually find together, or a simple sentence. For example, security experts would probably say that “PeanutButterManPants” and “PutThatDownJordan” are both strong passwords. Add numbers or symbols and you have one of the best possible defenses against pirates.

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