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I'm having trouble finding results for the internal workings of WiFi Protected Setup. All I can find is that the PIN method is broken, evil and cracked, and that you should turn off WPS PIN or WPS altogether... and that some routers don't even do that, so it's best to just not use routers that have WPS at all. All the results I find seem to be articles about how bad the WPS Pin is. When they do mention push button, it's as a "safe" alternative.

I am in need of some technical clarity.

How does the encryption for WiFi Protected Setup via Push Button Configuration work?

If a wifi device does not support using WPA/WPA2, could it still connect if it had WPS Push Button?


Wikipedia says

The WPS protocol consists of a series of EAP message exchanges that are triggered by a user action, relying on an exchange of descriptive information that should precede that user's action. The descriptive information is transferred through a new Information Element (IE) that is added to the beacon, probe response, and optionally to the probe request and association request/response messages. Other than purely informative type-length-values, those IEs will also hold the possible and the currently deployed configuration methods of the device.

EAP is Extensible Authentication Protocol, and it's apparently included by default (at least one version is, EAP-TLS) in WPA and WPA2.

WPA and WPA2 use various encryption algorithms to authenticate a device that wishes to access the Access Point.

Can one bypass these encryption algorithms by simply using WPS Push button, sending EAP-TLS messages to authenticate?

  • I don't understand the connection between WPA/WPA2 and WPS. How WPS works is well documented, what part of the specification exactly, don't you understand? You have read the specification on it right? – Ramhound Nov 19 '14 at 15:04
  • @Ramhound I can't find the specification for WPS Push button. I'd love to see it. – Pimgd Nov 19 '14 at 15:05
  • Every single one of your answers can be answered by reading the specification on Wi-Fi Protected Setup Yes; If a device connects to the network through WPS it will bypass WPA/WPA2 authentication – Ramhound Nov 19 '14 at 15:10
  • @Ramhound reading through the specification, it seems to only obtain the PSK. Wouldn't you still have to authenticate, except it could be automated at that point? Relevant quote: "A handshake then takes place in which the devices mutually authenticate and the client is accepted onto the network. The Registrar communicates the SSID and the WPA2 “pre-shared key” (PSK), enabling security." – Pimgd Nov 19 '14 at 15:18
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You can find the internal of WPS here and here
For your second question,
I don't think so. WPA is not only an authentication mechanism but it also encrypts the connection, so It's still in effect AFTER you enter the password & connect to wifi until the device is disconnected.

  • The first link says that push button configuration consists of pushing buttons. I knew that already, and it says nothing about the internal workings. I have read the Wikipedia article extensively already, is there any specific segment you'd like to point out to me? – Pimgd Nov 19 '14 at 15:05
  • No; If you connect to a router through WPS then you have bypassed the WPA/WPA2 authentication. Its designed for devices that do not have the capability to have a passphrased entered and thus cannot use WPA/WPA2, say a wireless network printer. – Ramhound Nov 19 '14 at 15:08
  • WPS works with a PIN being communicated to the client to be used for authentication, much like a preshared key. @Ramhound Yes, Using WPS the device will bypass the WPA authentication, but what about the security in rest of the connection? I think WPA encryption scheme is still used after the device is attached to network. – Sam Nov 19 '14 at 17:27
  • What? Your question isn't clear. How can WPA scheme be used if the device connect over a WPS connection is never told what the WPA passphrase is? – Ramhound Nov 19 '14 at 17:29
  • @Ramhound: You're mixing things up. WEP/WPA/WPA2 are authentication AND encryption methods, WPS is a way to communicate PSK for WPA/WPA2 , It's not an authentication OR encryption method, It's just a way to pass the WPA/WPA2 PSK to the client without actually entering it. """Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance, helps users quickly and easily configure WPA/WPA2-Personal (PSK) security on wireless routers and clients"""" from briolidz.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/wi-fi-protected-setup-wps – Sam Nov 22 '14 at 18:30

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