Friday, July 13, 2012

How to Find the Network Security Key for Your Internet Network

PIN numbers and other security codes have worked their way into just about everything we do. We have security numbers for our credit cards and debit cards, and we have passwords to secure our information on the Internet. With all those passwords, it is easy to forget or lose one of them. Those that are rarely used, such as the security key for your wireless Internet network, are especially susceptible to this. However, that information can be found in the administration console of your router.


  • Connect your wireless router to your computer using a hard-wired connection with an Ethernet cable.
  • Click the Windows "Start" button, type "cmd" into the Search field and press "Enter."
  • Type "ipconfig /all" (without the quotes) at the command prompt. Write down the number listed for default gateway.
  • Open Internet Explorer, type the default gate into the address bar. You should be prompted to enter a username and password for the router administration console. Common usernames include "admin" or "administrator," and default passwords include "admin" or "password." Different manufacturers use different credentials (see Resouces). Visit your manufacturer's website or call customer support to obtain the username and password for the console.
  • Enter the username and password and click "OK."
  • The router's user interface will appear. Look for an entry for security key or passphrase. This information likely will be under the wireless security settings.

Tips and Warnings


Many people unnecessarily worry that they will cause irreparable problems by putting a wrong setting into the router. There is always a reset the router to factory settings.

What is WEP Encryption for Wireless Networks?

Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) is a security protocol for wireless networks that encrypts transmitted data . It's easy to configure. Without any security your data can be intercepted without difficulty.

However, WEP was an early attempt to secure wireless networks, and better security is now available such as DES, VPN, and WPA. See the Guide to Internet Security to learn about network security.

WEP has three settings: Off (no security), 64-bit (weak security), 128-bit (a bit better security). WEP is not difficult to crack, and using it reduces performance slightly.

If you run a network with only the default security, where WEP is turned off, any of your neighbors can immediately log on to your network and use your Internet connection.

For wireless devices to communicate, all of them must use the same WEP setting. (40-bit and 64-bit WEP encryption are the same thing — 40-bit devices can communicate with 64-bit devices.)

While there is no extra performance cost to encrypting the longer key, there is a cost to transmitting the extra data over the network. 128-bit security is not much more difficult than 64-bit to crack, so if you are concerned about performance, consider using 64-bit. If you're very concerned about security, use WPA, which replaces WEP with a protocol that is — given current technology — impossible to crack. There's a good overview in What's New in Security: WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access).

The WEP concept of passphrase is introduced so that you do not have to enter complicated strings for keys by hand. The passphrase you enter is converted into complicated keys. Choose passphrases with the same care you would important passwords.

  • With 128-bit encryption, you need to enter a passphrase to generate each key.
  • All four keys must be specified, because WEP switches between them to make your traffic more difficult to break.
  • All devices within your LAN must use the same passphrases (i.e., the same keys).

WEP is not necessary if you have a gaming console such as PlayStation or Xbox, and there are no other computers on the network.

Read Instructions on how to Configure Wireless Security (WEP/WPA/Access list). Instructions are also included on the User Manuals and Reference Manuals for wireless products (available on the Product page on this site as downloads).

Network Security Key Mismatch

Network Security Key Mismatch

 Having a network security key mismatch can happen to almost anyone.  Your Wi-Fi is asking you for the password to gain access; and as you effortlessly type the network key, something goes wrong.  You seem not to be sure anymore what that last character in the password is; and true enough, you could not access the internet wirelessly.  You have now anetwork security key mismatch situation.

This network security key mismatch wouldn’t have to be an issue if you happen to write the password down on paper or there is someone else who regularly access the same network with the same password that you just have forgotten.  If this kind of situation doesn’t apply in your case, then your network security key mismatch problem has just gotten a bit worse.

So now, it all comes down to the point that it is only you who actually knew the network security key because you were the only person who set-up the Wi-Fi network in the first place.  Before going to drastic measures to solve a network security key mismatch situation like this one, try relaxing a bit.  By standing up, drinking some water, watching television, do whatever works to make you comfortable and less tense towards the network security key mismatch problem that you are facing.  If this does not help you at all recalling the network security key, it would mean that you have to do certain steps to retrieving the password on your network security key mismatch problem technically.

Troubleshooting network security key mismatch

The first thing that you should do on retrieving the password on a network security key mismatch is to use the computer that was originally used to set up the router providing the Wi-Fi access and the network security key.  There is usually a Wi-Fi access icon at the bottom right hand corner of the monitor screen which you should click that will allow you see the password in cases of network security key mismatch.  However it is often shown as something like (*****); the number of asterisk relies on the length of the password.

Newer versions of operation systems give you the option to reveal the actual characters used in the password and if you are the type who normally updates software on your PC, your network security key mismatch issue is over. However for older operating systems, the character revealing feature is absent when it comes to having a network security key mismatch.  Therefore, this would result to going back to the router and try to set up the gadget as if you just bought it.  Each model has its own manual as to setting it up but it always involves connecting the router to the computer and the internet providing device via LAN cables.  The user name and the password for setting up the router are provided by the manual by default assuming that you have not changed it (most username is usually “admin” and the password is usually “admin” as well. Once you reach the final phase of the set up, you will be asked to provide a new network key.  This time to prevent a future network security key mismatch, it would be wise to write it down as soon as you are done.  You may not have retrieved the old password but you get to gain access wirelessly with the new one solving obviously your network security key mismatch.

A reminder to network security key mismatch

Always remember that the network security key remains constant in a router once set-up, unless it is changed and even if you forget just one character.  Most people who use the internet who are not computer savvy usually have the wrong impression that network security key mismatch issues are not router related or the router is defective.

Network Security Key

If you want to keep anything private and protected, you need a lock and key. You lock your objects or data with a protective mechanism and the key is used to authenticate, who has access to said objects or data. The "lock and key" principle can be applied in the world of networking. Wireless networks are a wire-free way for multiple compatible objects to access the Internet and each other. You can connect different devices to the same network, from a smartphone or a TV to a laptop or an MP3 player. But with such freedom, comes the task of protecting the network.

Your wireless network can be detected by any other computer with a wireless antenna and that comes within the range of the network. How do you restrict network access to the real, legitimate users? How do you keep out intruders and piggy-backers from using your network? It is simple: you "lock" access to the network and only allow access to those who have a "key". A network security key or passphrase is equivalent to a login password or phrase, that authenticates you, as the user, to access a private account. This key is user-generated i.e. the owner or creator of the network will create the key. Those who want to access a wireless network, must know the key.

What are the Different Wireless Network Security Methods?

Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP)
Here, in this method, a key is set to encrypt the information that is transferred from one computer to another within the network. The wireless network setup will require this key, to encrypt and decrypt the data that is sent. This is a relatively old method of network security and the WEP key is comparatively easy to crack.

802.1X Authentication
802.1X is specifically used for wireless 802.11 networks as well for wired Ethernet networks. This type of authentication is typically used in workplace networks. Here an authentication server is used for validating users who want access to the network.

Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA)
This is the most widely used method of wireless network security. In Wi-Fi protected access, information is encrypted and only authorized people can access the network. There is an updated version of this encryption mechanism, called WPA2. It is recommended for use over WPA, as it is more secure. However, WPA2 may not be supported by older routers or access points, as well as other wireless devices (like MP3 players).

How to Get Your Network Security Key

Network security keys or passwords aren't as easy to retrieve as other login details. For one, the key may have been set up on a computer, but is ultimately and always stored on the router. It does not exist in the form of a file or a program, it is a small detail located on your router's setup page. If you are legally connected to the network, then the network administrator will provide you with the key. Changing or getting a new key also involves visiting the same page, so the following steps will help you find your network key:

  • To access the router's setup page, there should be a wired, physical connection between the computer and the router.
  • Either access a desktop computer connected to the router or wire your laptop to the router, using an Ethernet cable.
  • Open the web browser. For this operation, use either Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox.
    In the address bar of the web browser, type the router's address. Usually, the default address for most routers is
  • You can also find the router's address by opening the Command Prompt and typing the command ipconfig. The IP address in "Default gateway" is the address of your router.
  • A small login window will appear, asking for the router's user name and password. Enter the details as required.
  • By default, the router user name field should be blank and the default password is admin. But these details can differ on various routers, so refer to the router's documentation to get such information.
  • Once you have accessed the router's page, look for wireless security or wi-fi or wireless network settings tab.
  • Look for the phrase security key or passphrase. This is your wireless network key.

Set up a security key for a wireless network

Personal information and files on your wireless network can sometimes be seen by people who pick up your network signal. This can lead to identity theft and other malicious acts. A network security key or passphrase can help protect your wireless network from this type of unauthorized access.

The Set Up a Wireless Router or Access Point wizard will guide you through setting up a security key.

  • Open Set Up a Wireless Router or Access Point by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Network and Internet, and then clicking Network and Sharing Center. In the left pane, click Set up a connection or network, and then click Set up a wireless router or access point.