What Is a Network Security Key? Everything You Need to Know
It takes only seconds for a normal Internet browsing session to turn catastrophic. Hackers rarely require longer than this to gain access to sensitive information. You might find it alarming to learn the average data breach hit a record $4.4 million in 2022. For most businesses, this can be difficult or impossible to deal with. Improving your network security goes a long way toward preventing cyber attacks. The first step to protecting your data is understanding cybersecurity strategies, such as properly using network security keys. Find yourself wondering, "What is a network security key?" We've created a brief guide that outlines essential information you should know. Let's explore this topic and how you can use this info to secure your business.
What Is a Network Security Key?
This is a password that protects wireless networks. The most common scenario where people encounter a network security key is when logging into a Wi-Fi network.
Depending on your Internet service provider, you might see a network security key referred to by a different term. Alternative terms include "network password," "WEP key," or "WPA key."
How Does It Work?
A network security key functions similarly to how a traditional key would interact with a lock. Anyone without the security key won't be able to access your network. Not using a network security key is the equivalent of leaving your home unlocked. While this doesn't guarantee something bad will happen, it creates unnecessary risk. Regarding wireless networks, people who have access to the network can use it for nefarious purposes.
This is why experts recommend against using public Wi-Fi networks. Even the Federal Trade Commission says connecting to a public network is dangerous.
Types of Network Security Keys
There are four primary types of network security keys. You can typically use one or more of these on your router. Let's explore them in depth below.
WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy)
You'll generally find this on older systems. It's difficult to configure and easy to bypass, which is why modern systems don't use it. If you have the choice between WEP and an alternative, avoid selecting WEP.
WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access)
While more refined than WEP, it's still susceptible to cyber attacks. When protecting your data, you should opt for the more modern versions of WPA on this list. Doing so will prevent problems you may have otherwise encountered.
WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 2)
The main difference between WPA2 and WPA is that this version uses the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). This is a modern security measure that encrypts Internet data. It's much more effective at preventing unauthorized access.
WPA3 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 3)
The most current version of WPA protection is WPA3. A notable attribute is that it streamlines setting up devices without a display. It's also available for personal and enterprise use.
How to Find a Network Security Key
There's a handful of methods you can use to find your network security key. If you are within reach of your router, it's listed on the device itself. It's generally located on the back of the router on a small sticker next to your network's default name. If checking the router isn't an option but your device is already on the network, you can check your device's settings.
If you have an Android device, open your settings and click on the "Connections" option. You should then navigate to "Wi-Fi." Find the network you need the security key for.
You'll have the option to generate a QR code. You can then scan this code on another device to gain access to the network security key.
If you're using an iOS device, navigate to your settings and choose "Wi-Fi." Find the desired network and tap the "i" icon next to it. Select the password field and use Face ID or Touch ID to view the network security key in plaintext.
On Windows 10 and 11, the process is a bit more involved. Go to your settings and choose "Network & Internet" on the left side. Then, choose "Advanced Network Settings."
Select "More Network Adapter Options." Left-click on the desired network and choose "Status."
Open "Wireless Properties" and navigate to the "Security tab." Choose "Show characters." The password will then appear.
On devices that run macOS, open the "System Settings" application. Choose "Network" and then "Wi-Fi."
Click the button named "Advanced..." A list of networks will appear. Choose "Copy Password" and paste this information wherever you need to.
Keeping Your Network Secure
It's easier than it seems to keep a wireless network secure. Creating a strong password is the first step. Avoid using personal information that others could guess. You should also make your passwords long and complex. For ideal protection, don't use a password that you use for other accounts.
Securing a business network is a bit more involved than securing a personal one. Criminals almost always prioritize commercial networks, so it's essential to have a proper strategy.
Working with a professional is one of the best ways to keep your business network secure. They have the resources and tools to defend against common threats. Before you hire someone, look at their past reputation. See what other clients have to say about their experiences. It's best to choose someone with a large number of positive reviews. Ask about their pricing structure, as well. They should have no trouble providing insight into where your money goes. This helps you avoid financial surprises like miscellaneous fees. Do they offer ongoing support? It can be frustrating to deal with issues on your own.
Prioritize companies that have a robust customer support policy. This will save you major headaches in the future.
Never Neglect Network Security
Since running a business comes with so many nuances, overlooking network security isn't uncommon. However, it's essential to prioritize this obligation. Remember the above answer to "What is a network security key" so you can get started on the right track.
Our professional team at Eagle Point Technology Solutions has the experience to take your network security to the next level. We prioritize using creative problem-solving to exceed each of our client's expectations. Book a consultation today to learn more about how we can help.