Networking has made our lives simpler in multiple ways to a great extent. But, the security aspect of networking is still a challenge. There are various ways of adding security features to a network. A network security key helps to authenticate the connection made to a wireless network and is widely used to secure a network.
A user can connect to a network or a device by requesting the correct NSK (Network Security Key). Many people confuse an NSK with a simple password when it is much more than that. Security features are needed to protect our data and information from intruders and cybercriminals. Read on to know about the network security key and its applications.
Before getting into the details of NSK, you should be familiar with what network security is. Network security comprises policies, standards, and techniques used to prevent unauthorized access to a network. The misuse of data/information over a network can be avoided via robust network security.
A Network security key is a type of password/passphrase used to gain access to a private network or device. Unlike other passwords, a network security key can be digital, biometric, or physical as per the user’s choice. A network consists of access points and routers that are secured by an NSK. Unauthorized users cannot enter your network as they do not know the network security key. It helps protect your files and information present on the wireless network or any device connected to the network.
A network security key should be strong and challenging to guess randomly. The data packets exchanged via a private network are also authenticated by an NSK. A network security key establishes a secure connection between the user/client and the network under usage.
We need an NSK for securing our networks and devices that are connected to them. The use cases of NSKs are as follows:
Network security key has many use cases besides just authenticating the user’s request to join a network. It is also helpful for various chores like securing online transactions, online shopping, and financial activities.
The network security key can be of four types:
It uses CRC (Cyclic Redundancy Check) for identifying errors and implementing the required corrections. CRC detects the spontaneous/accidental changes to data present on the digital networks. A short check value is attached to the data blocks that are entering a network via CRC. Even with CRC, WEP is not of much importance if you have high-security standards.
WPA uses TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocol) that provides a viable link-layer security to wireless networks. The secret access key is combined with the initialization vector by TKIP. A mixing function is created by TKIP that is used to connect the secret root key with the initialization vector. WPA is more secure as compared to WEP but less than the other modern-day security measures.
WPA-PSK is often used with AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) to achieve high cybersecurity standards. Hackers intercept the data packets that are being transmitted and then break the encryption of the network. The messages transferred on a network that contains WPA-PSK are encrypted by the pre-shared key, making it difficult for hackers (especially brute force attackers). The WPA-PSK works on MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) making it hard for attackers to intrude.
Since businesses have resources to set up a server, the security is enhanced multiple times via WPA2 Enterprise compared to WPA-PSK. It has been specifically developed for enterprises and organizations.
Wireless networks need to be protected from intruders to gain access to our data and information and even misuse them. You can use any of the above NSKs for enhancing the security of your wireless networks.
One can easily forget the NSK for the routers and devices. Well, it can be recovered using your router and Windows even after you have forgotten it. Let us see how to get a network security key for windows and a wireless router:
The NSK is saved on the Windows system and can be backtracked whenever needed. Follow the steps mentioned below to find NSK for Windows.
You can easily find NSK on your router. Look for ‘Password,’ ‘WPA Key,’ or ‘Wireless Security Key’ on your router, and you can find the respective NSK. The NSK of a router is also saved on the connected devices and can be backtracked.
For other devices like Mac and smartphones, one can find the respective NSK. The NSK in Mac can be found in the ‘Utilities’ section. In smartphones, the NSK can be found in ‘Hotspot Settings.’
Every router or access point comes with a default network security. It is recommended to change the default NSK or your Wi-Fi password when you opt for a new router. A wireless network can be visible to various users that are within the range. It is essential to change your NSK at regular intervals. The process of changing the Wi-Fi password depends on the type of router and access point.
To change the NSK of the router, you need to know the IP address of the router first. To find the router’s IP address in Windows, click on the ‘Start button and select ‘Run.’ Then type ‘cmd’ and press enter the ‘Run’ section. A black command box will be displayed to the user; type ‘ipconfig’ in the command box and press enter. You can copy the IP address from the ‘Default Gateway’ line displayed on the command box. Examples of IP addresses of routers are 192.168.1.1, 192.168.0.1, etc.
Once you have copied the IP address, follow the steps mentioned below to modify it.
A lot of networks also provide personalized applications or portals for managing the network security key. You can use those services to modify your NSK easily if the method mentioned above seems complex.
NSK mismatch occurs when the key/passphrase you are using to connect to a wireless network is incorrect. NSK mismatch can occur due to the following reasons:
NSK is commonly referred to as the Wi-Fi password or the wireless network password. A password can be anything that protects a piece of information from getting into unauthorized hands. The passwords for various applications in a device cannot be considered NSK because they are not shared on the network. NSK is only used to establish a secure connection between the user and a network. The clients use NSK to gain authorization to enter a wireless network.
The messages shared over a network secured with an NSK are encrypted, and someone having the appropriate key can only alter/modify the encrypted messages. Having a strong NSK of your wireless network is essential to avoid unknown users entering your network.
IT professionals understand the need for network security as new encryption standards are evolving faster. The advantages of using NSK for protecting unauthorized access to wireless networks and access points have been discussed throughout this blog. The benefits of NSKs are summarised below:
IT professionals and tech enthusiasts should know how to differentiate an NSK from other types of passwords and use it to protect their wireless networks. Data is a valuable commodity, and you cannot leave it out in the open to be accessed by anyone. Freshers looking to build a career in the cybersecurity sector should know about enhancing a wireless network’s security by using various types of NSK. Users should know how to find the network security key to be in control of their network. Start using a strong NSK for your wireless network today.
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