How to Change Wireless Network Security Keys

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Maintaining security on your wireless network is an important issue. Wi-Fi, by nature, is vulnerable until you secure it with Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) data encryption or another security protocol. Password protection of your wireless network with a security key helps prevent hackers and other unauthorized individuals from tapping into and using your Internet connection. In the event that you forget your wireless network security key or would like to change it to a more secure one, most wireless routers contain a helpful Web page through which you can make these changes.

Things You'll Need

  • Wireless router
  • Obtain the wireless router's IP address, also known as the "default gateway." Click the "Start" button and select "Run." Type "cmd" in the box and press "Enter" to open Windows Command Prompt. Type "ipconfig /all" and press "Enter" in the Command Prompt. Find the listing for the "default gateway" and write this IP address down.

  • Open a Web browser. Type the router's IP address or "default gateway" into the browser address bar and press "Enter." When prompted for a username and password, enter the credentials associated with the Web management interface of your router. Press "Enter" or click "OK" after typing the username and password.

  • Find and click on the "wireless" or "wireless security" section of the router's Web management interface. Locate the section that lists the type of security enabled on the network, such as "WPA" (Wi-Fi Protected Access) or "WPA2" encryption. In the shared key or pass-phrase box, highlight the current password with your mouse. Type the new security key in the box. Click the "Save Changes" or "Save Settings" button.

  • Configure your computer to log on to the wireless network with this new security key. Click the network connection icon in the lower right corner of the screen by the system clock to have the list of available connections displayed. Right-click your network name from the list and select "Properties." Click the "Security" tab. In the "security key" box, type the new pass phrase for the network. Click "OK."

Tips & Warnings

  • Convert your security key to hexadecimal format for tighter security on your network. Text-to-hexadecimal tools can be found online. Or, if converting numbers to hexadecimal format, open the Windows Calculator tool, type in the desired numbers for your security key and click the "Hex" button.
  • Many wireless routers, when shipped from the manufacturer and bought from the store, use the default username of "admin" and password of "admin" or "password" for the Web-management site until it is changed.
  • Most home Wi-Fi routers use a default gateway of "192.168.1.1" or "192.168.0.1."
  • Set the network security key on your wireless network to contain at least 20 to 30 characters; most routers allow for around 63 characters in a security key.

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