When we look at wireless routers, there’s sometimes some confusion surrounding passwords. It really isn’t that complex as long as you understand that there are 2 important passwords that you need to deal with, and what the purpose of each one is.
A router’s wireless password (also sometimes called the WiFi password) enables access to the network – without it you cannot connect to the internet or anything else. This password is associated with the mode of encryption that the device is using (e.g. WEP, WPA, WPA2). For more information to understand what this is, please see Wireless Security.
Once you’ve used the password, you’re connected to the wireless network and all of its resources, like an internet connection are available. It’s important to remember that when giving your password out to friends, they’ll be able to use your resources, so only do so to people that you trust.
Having access to a wireless network is one thing. Controlling that network is another. In order to control a wireless network you must login to the router as an administrator with the correct password. Administrator access is very important because all sorts of sensitive things (e.g. the router’s DNS settings, wireless network name, etc.) can be changed by anyone who can login as an administrator. That’s why keeping the administrator password secure is so important.
When choosing an administrator password, consider that a router is not a typical website that can reset your password for you or send you hints if you forget it. If you forget your router’s administrator password, you cannot retrieve it: you must reset the router to its factory default settings. This overwrites all your router customizations (such as setting up the WiFi security). You must redo these settings.
Don’t Make Them The Same
It should be fairly obvious, but don’t make your wireless password the same as your administrator password! Yes, it will be more convenient – fewer passwords to remember. But,,, your wireless password will probably be given out to your friends who wish to use your network when they’re at your house. You don’t want these people to be able to also login to your router and start to muck around with your settings. That could cause some real problems if that happens.
Consider Using a Password Manager
Unless you use a password regularly, you will likely forget it. You may want to record your WiFi password somewhere for when you need it. You can write your password down, but an alternative is to store your password in a password manager. Not only can the password manager help you by creating the password for you, but it will securely store the password for you, and you won’t have to search for that bit of paper. And, in all likelihood, your password manager will log into your WiFi admin page for you. If you’re considering using a password manager, we recommend using Sticky Password.