What is a Network Security Key and How Do You Find It?

Do you know what your network security key is?

If you have a wireless network in your home or at the office, then you’ll likely have a network security key. It’s also commonly referred to as a Wi-Fi password and is what protects the access point so that only you or your co-workers can securely get on to the wireless network.

But passwords get forgotten all the time. It’s not safe to write them down and stick them on the fridge door or leave it on a note on your phone. A strong network security key should also include a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols to make it hard for anyone to try and figure it out.

So what should you do if you can’t remember what your network security key is? Do you need to buy a new router or contact technical support? Thankfully, recovering your network security key is easy, as long as you follow the guide below.

What Types of Network Security Keys Are There?

There are a few different types of security keys that protect a Wi-Fi network. It’s important to know what kind of security you have on your router to determine how you establish a safe connection and how other individuals can access your network.

Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP)

Not many networks should be using WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) to protect a Wi-Fi network. Hackers have quickly figured out how to infiltrate this type of security and take control of a network. It’s not commonly used any more, but it may still be present on older routers or access points.

Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA)

More recently, WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) has been the preferred network security key type to protect a wireless network. Instead of using a static encryption code like a WEP, it uses a combination of integrity checks and packet-mixing functions to keep unwanted visitors out of the network and sharing center.

Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2)

A WPA2 improves upon the original configuration to provide temporary network security keys that change with every packet. It’s tough for hackers to penetrate and provides superior protection for any network and sharing center, whether it’s in the home or office.

How to Get Your Network Security Key

Fortunately, there are multiple ways to find your network security key. It’s essential to know the various methods to locate a Wi-Fi password in the instance that one technique fails or you’re locked out of a particular device.

Any item that is or has connected to your wireless network will be able to provide you with the network security key. However, these are the most reliable places to get your Wi-Fi password when it’s been misplaced.

How to Find a Network Security Key on a Router

Router manufacturers understand how frustrating it is to forget your network security key. It no doubt causes dozens of calls and messages to their customer services teams on a daily basis. That’s why they’ve made finding the network security key extremely easy. All you need to do is pick it with your hands and turn it over.

Not every manufacturer uses a universal network security label. You may need to make sense of a lot of letters and numbers on the sticker. But the most common phrases to keep an eye out for include:

·     Password or key

·     WPA key

·     Wireless password

·     WEP key

Most often, the network security key will appear under the wireless network name. This may also be listed as SSID or Wi-Fi network. It’s important to note that this is the default network security key. If you’ve changed it to something else, then you will need to try another method to recover your network security key.

How to Find a Network Security Key on a Mac

Finding the network security key on a Mac device is not as simple as turning it over, but it’s not too difficult to retrieve it.

Head to the search icon, which looks like a magnifying glass. It’s usually near the time and date in the top right-hand corner. Type in Keychain Access. Once you’re in this setting, look for your wireless network. When you’ve found it, double click on it.

To find your network security key, you’ll want to click the box that says show password. In order to display this information, your Mac may request your laptop or computer password.

How to Find a Network Security Key on a Windows Device

To find your network security key on a Windows device, you’re going to need to navigate your way through the wireless network settings.

Start by performing a right-click on the Start bar. Select Network Connections and then scroll until you find Network and Sharing Center. Find your network name and click on the wireless properties option. Make your way to the security tab to see your password is nothing but a bunch of asterisks. Click on the show characters box, and your network security key should appear.

How to Change Your Wi-Fi Password

Now that you’ve found your network security key, it’s a good idea to update it, especially if you found it on the bottom of your router or another access point. Using the default WEP key or WPA key is never a good idea. Often manufacturers will make the network security key a combination of common words and numbers.

The best method of updating of network security key is by logging into your router or access point directly. You can do this by going through a web browser on your phone, laptop, or computer and following these steps.

·     In the address bar, type in 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1

·     Type in the login credentials for your router or access point. You should be able to find this in the manual or at the bottom of the device.

·     Once you’re in, go to the menu option titled wireless settings, wireless security, or simply wireless.

·     There should be an option for WPA2, WPA key, or WEP key.

·     Now you should be able to update the network security key.

·     A strong network security key should contain a minimum of ten characters, a symbol, and at least one number.

After you’ve updated your network security key, you will need to go to each device that’s connected to it and update the Wi-Fi password on them. It can be an annoying and frustrating task, but it’s a lot better than getting hacked and your information being stolen.

Common Network Key Errors

Sometimes an issue with your network is not entirely the fault of your password. In these instances, you’ll receive a message stating there is a network security key mismatch. Fortunately, most of the common reasons why this occurs can be easily resolved, and your device can return to the network in no time.

Wrong Password

The most common reason for a network security key mismatch is due to the fact that you’ve forgotten to update your password. So many devices use your router or access point to connect to the Wi-Fi that it’s easy to miss one or two. Simply type in your new network security key, and you should be back up and running.

Access Point or Router Crashes

Technology isn’t perfect, and sometimes systems crash. Access points and routers are no different. You won’t need to enter your network key or login to your device. Simply hit the reset button or unplug it from the wall to restart it.

The Device isn’t Compatible

If you have an old device on your network, then it’s possible that they may only support WEP keys. As WEP keys are no longer used due to the security risk they pose, it may mean your item won’t be able to connect to the network. If it’s possible, you may be able to update the firmware or operating system. However, if you can’t, then it means you’ll need to replace it with something that can support a more secure network key.

How to Protect Your Wi-Fi and Devices

It’s crucial that you understand how to find the network security key for your Wi-Fi. This string of letters, numbers, and symbols is how you get online, and without it, your device won’t be able to access the wireless network.

Fortunately, to find the network security key, you don’t need to do a lot of detective work. Most often, it can be found by looking under the router. But if you were smart enough to change it from the default password, then you can also find the network security key on Windows or Mac devices. It does require rummaging through the network connections and wireless properties, but it’s much better than replacing your entire system.

Once you have found your network key, it’s critical that you update it to something memorable that features a combination of symbols, numbers, and letters. While you’ll need to update the new security key on Windows, Mac, and every other device on the network, it will ensure they’re all protected.

If you want to make sure that all of your devices are protected at all times, then you should also get a VPN. A virtual private network can hide sensitive details like your IP address and provide you with anonymity while you’re online.

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