Are there too many people on your WiFi network? An obvious reason to change your WiFi password is to protect your bandwidth — the more people on your network, the slower your download and upload speeds. You're also less likely to watch videos, listen to music, or play video games at an optimal quality when they're more people using your WiFi.
Changing your WiFi password can also help your security and privacy. For example, if a neighbor is “borrowing” your WiFi, their activity on your network could impact you. They may be able to see or even access devices that are on your network. If they engage in dodgy behavior online, like cheating in video games or downloading illegal content, your IP address could get flagged. Taking care to ensure only those you’ve allowed permission to your network are using it is a good reason to update your password periodically, or if you notice suspicious activity.
When you set a complex WiFi password, you also enhance your network defenses against more sophisticated threats:
- Drive-by hackers: The FBI warns people about drive-by attacks where hackers can gain access to your home network through poorly secured Internet-connected devices like smart thermostats or doorbells.
- WiFi viruses: Emerging WiFi viruses are concerning because they attack access points and spread quickly. For example, the Chameleon WiFi virus spreads almost like the common cold. Networks with weak passwords and encryption standards are especially vulnerable to such WiFi malware.
- Snoopers: A threat actor with access to your network and the right technology can invade your privacy by spying on your confidential files, folders, and more.
- Man-in-the-Middle attack: Also known as person-in-the-middle attacks, this attack allows a hacker to exploit transactions, conversations, and data transfers through compromised networks. Read up on man-in-the-middle attack prevention tips for more information.
Strong WiFi password
Before you change your WiFi password, you must come up with a good one. The better your WiFi password, the less likely it is that someone can guess it on their own or breach it through a dictionary attack. Here are some traits of a strong password for WiFi:
- It’s over eight characters long.
- It’s a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols.
- It doesn’t have common words, phrases, or numbers.
How to change your WiFi Password on your desktop
1. Find your router’s configuration page
Your first step is to visit your router’s configuration page. To do this, start your browser and enter your router’s IP address in the address bar. Most routers use 192.168.1.1 as their address, but not all do. IP addresses routers commonly use include:
In the unlikely event that it’s none of the above, open your Command Prompt (Windows key + R) and type cmd. Next, hit Enter and then type ipconfig and hit Enter again. This will display information that includes your WiFi information, and the default gateway address listed should be your router address.
2. Log into your router’s configuration page
You’ll be asked for a username and password on the configuration page. If you have never changed your router’s username and password, the default are usually “admin” and “password,” respectively. If you have changed them, log in using your username and password. If you have not set up your router’s login credentials and “admin” and “password” do not work, try a quick Google search with your router’s name and model number to find the information on setting up.
3. Change login credentials
Now that you’re logged into your router go to a page that says Wireless. Enter your new password or network key. Then, click apply or save to set your new password.
After you set a new WiFi password, you'll need to visit the network settings of every device in your network to revise the login credentials. This includes your desktops, laptops, mobile phones, tablets, gaming consoles, Smart TV, and other smart devices. Although the process may feel monotonous, the one-time effort will help you improve network security. The password on these devices must match the new password you just saved on your router’s configuration page.
How to change your WiFi password on your smartphone
As soon as you change your WiFi password on your router, your other smart devices should disconnect from the network and ask you for the new login information. If that doesn’t happen, try these steps to set the new password on your android phone:
- Tap Settings.
- Tap Connections.
- Hold "WiFi."
- Press the gears icon next to your network.
- Tap Forget.
- Reconnect to the network and enter your password.
Follow these steps to set the new WiFi password on your iPhone:
- Tap Settings.
- Tap "WiFi."
- Slide left to turn off WiFi.
- Slide right to turn on WiFi.
- Enter the new password.
WiFi and router passwords: What's the difference?
While the two may seem similar, they're quite different. A router password helps you access your router's various settings, while a WiFi password allows you to connect to a wireless network. However, both passwords should be complex to protect your network.
How to reset a password for your WiFi
You can reset your WiFi password by visiting your router’s configuration page as outlined above. But if you forgot the router’s username and password, you may reset the device to reset the WiFi. To do so, hold the reset button behind the router for 30 seconds to return it to factory settings. Please remember that you will lose access to the Internet until you reconfigure your router.
Changing your WiFi password is just one step in the basics of WiFi security protocols. It’s also a good idea to change your router’s username and password to make it harder for strangers to access your device. It can be helpful to also change your network name to prevent hackers from learning your device’s make and model through the default network title. Finally, check to see that you are using the best available wireless encryption. For most devices, this is WPA2, but it may be a more advanced version of the protocol in the future.