Why do we change the Wi-Fi password?

Guest Author, Jason Bird

IT, This is Jason
Why do we change the Wi-Fi password?

Periodically, the Technology department will change the Wi-Fi password. I am asked occasionally why we do this, and it really is a 3-part reason.

The most top-of-mind reason we do this is security. By changing the password, we ensure those who would do harm cannot use a password they learn to extensively attack the network for months on end. It takes well over 6 months to brute force an 8 character WPA2 passphrase such as the ones we use here at the company. By changing it every 3-4 months, we ensure anyone who could be trying to brute force the passcode cannot succeed.

A great benefit to changing the password is also performance. Changing the password kicks off “stale” devices that may be connected to the network, using resources, but actually are not being actively used. Devices such as tablets or laptops are left in offices and can be unused for months, but can draw CPU, memory, and bandwidth resources that could be used for a better connection for those actively using Wi-Fi. When those stale devices need to use the Wi-Fi again, simply re-entering the new password allows them on.

The third reason is related to security and performance, and is simply to make sure people who may know our password cannot sit in the parking lot and use our Wi-Fi, which brings down performance greatly because the farther away a device is from the Access Point, the more it hurts everyone else’s performance because the AP uses more resources to maintain a connection at a greater distance.

Feel free to email me at jbird@cbharper.com if you have any computer, networking, wi-fi, or other technology questions.