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BITS & BYTES: The difference between WPS, WPA, WPA2

BITS & BYTES: The difference between WPS, WPA, WPA2


Q. I’m just a casual computer user and don’t profess to know a whole lot. However, I do know it is important to be secure when using a wireless connection in a public place. What do the acronyms WPS, WPA, and WPA2 mean? Why should I care about these?

A. WPA and WPS sound similar, but they're entirely different technologies that perform entirely different tasks.

WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) and WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access Version 2) are security protocols that use encryption for secure access and ongoing communication between connected Wi-Fi devices.

WPA is mostly obsolete because it uses an older encryption technology that's now relatively easy to crack. WPA2 uses a stronger encryption technology that's immune to most forms of hacking.

WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) is technology designed solely to automate the initial setup of a Wi-Fi connection. WPS doesn't use encryption — and can actually bypass whatever encryption might otherwise be in use! If your new wireless router is equipped with a WPS button, then the initial setup of the router becomes almost effortless.

However, once your initial setup of your router is complete, turn off the WPS ability of the router. Why? Because if it’s easy for you to set up your router using WPS, then it will be easy for a bad guy to tap into that WPS and upset your happy computing life. If you need WPS back again, simply log into the router and enable it again.

Q. I use the highlighter feature of Microsoft Word extensively on my job. However, when I print a highlighted document, I don’t want the highlighting to print. Is this possible?

A. It is not unusual to use the highlighting tool to mark up a document for your own use, but you may not want that highlighting to print. You can turn off the printing of highlighting by following these steps:

1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2010, click the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)

2. Click Display at the left side of the dialog box.

3. Clear the Show Highlighter Marks check box.

4. Click on OK to close the dialog box.

The highlighting in your document should disappear. It is still there, but you have simply hidden it so it is not visible. You can now print your document, and the highlighting won't show. To again display the highlighting, follow the same steps but make sure the Show Highlighter Marks check box is selected.

Opinions are solely the writer's. April Miller Cripliver, of Chesterton, has a doctorate in management information systems and is a computer hardware and software consultant. E-mail your computer questions to, and specify your operating system and other pertinent PC information.


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