What is a security key for a wireless connection?
November 4, 2009 3:37 PM   Subscribe

My new computer can find our wireless router; it asks for a "security key" in order to connect. What is a security key?

I bought a new Dell laptop, Windows 7. The icon in the tray shows a connection to our router. I clicked that thinking I would just need to enter our password. Wrong!

It does show the name of the internet connection we set up, and that the signal is strong. The only prompt is for a security key, which does not accept either the password or pass phrase that were created for this connection.

Is the security key something related to the actual router (Netgear)? The modem (Time Warner cable)? And how do I find it, whatever/where ever it is? Halp!
posted by jaruwaan to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It's set in the router. If it's a Netgear, try popping the IP address in your browser. If it prompts for a username and password, try "admin" and "password" (you can naturally find specific information for your router model online). There will likely be a "security" or "wireless access" area for you to click on once the router's page comes up, so jump in there and follow the instructions. Strongly recommend your just get your router's manual from the Netgear website and do what it says. Get some fresh firmware for it while you're there!
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:46 PM on November 4, 2009

I'm probably wrong, but I had something similar when I changed broadband suppliers recently and they sent me a new router.

Anyway, I found the number printed on the underside of the router: there were several numbers. I say numbers but there may have been letters within it also, with various (to me) inexplicable acronyms next to them.

I just put all those in into the prompt one after another and I got back "it's not the right amount of numbers" or "you are stupid" etc.

Eventually one worked though.

If I'm on the completely the wrong track, then ignore this.
posted by selton at 4:17 PM on November 4, 2009

The security key is a long string of numbers (0-9) and letters (a-f). You need to log in to your router as turgid dahlia suggested, look for a wireless settings link, then look for the key somewhere on that page. Write that string down, then enter it as you try to log in to wireless with your new laptop.
posted by MegoSteve at 4:42 PM on November 4, 2009

it is the WEP numbers.
posted by patnok at 4:52 PM on November 4, 2009

I think the default linksys router IP is:

(don't know about the 0.1 on the end of td's comment).

And if you haven't ever configured the router, its login might be "admin/admin" or blank/"admin"
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:14 PM on November 4, 2009

Whoops, I see you said Netgear, not sure where I got linksys from. It's still likely to be accessible at
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:16 PM on November 4, 2009

What kind of Netgear router do you have? And have you done any setup of the router itself, i.e. followed the router's instructions for installation/configuration?

As others have mentioned, the information being requested is almost certainly a security key request from your router. Router's aren't completely plug-and-play; there's a certain amount of configuration (not too much) that you'll need to do to get up and running with it.

As turgid dahlia mentions, you can try opening a browser and navigating to, which (I think) is the default URL for Netgear router configuration pages. That should get you to a place where you may be able to figure out how to configure things without the manual. Otherwise, if you have the router manual, I'd recommend following its setup instructions.
posted by Brak at 5:19 PM on November 4, 2009

Often times new routers have that printed on a sticker on the outside of the router.
posted by Good Brain at 5:22 PM on November 4, 2009

I could have been clearer about this: the router/network has been set up for about a year and a half now. So, yes, it was installed and configured then. We have since added a desktop computer. (But when I say "we," I do not mean that I was actually involved in any of this.)

The router is a Wireless-G router, model WGR614v9.

selton, I did not ignore you! I did what you did and plugged in every number I could find on the router or the box it came in..... but, no joy.

fourmaccheese's IP address,, got me in to a Netgear site, the "admin" and "password" worked, but I am still not finding something that says *THIS is a Security Key* ...

The Wireless Settings link does show the settings set up here. It includes a Security pass phrase that we created. This was the first thing I tried. It does not satisfy the request for Security Key.

I think we may end up reconfiguring the whole thing, but any other ideas are welcome!
posted by jaruwaan at 6:34 PM on November 4, 2009

1. Are you sure it's your router? Silly question, but I have to ask.

2. Are you copying the 'security pass phrase' exactly as written capitals etc.?

3. Ok, now that i've asked the dumb questions. What other operating systems are connected wirelessly? XP Service pack 3 and Vista? (or nothing?)

Go back to your security settings. Remember them (Type, WEP, WPA, or WPA 2) and paassword, then remove them. No security.

Does your laptop connect now? If yes.. yay! Go back into your router. Turn security back on, same as before (Type and password). Your other computers should reconnect just fine. Now try the windows 7 laptop, with the passphrase you just re-entered. Any luck?
posted by defcom1 at 7:20 PM on November 4, 2009

turgid dahlia: "If it prompts for a username and password, try "admin" and "password" (you can naturally find specific information for your router model online)."

And while you're in there, change the password for the router and store it somewhere secure like Keepass.
posted by IndigoRain at 9:45 PM on November 4, 2009

All right defcom1! Success!

fourmac got me to the correct website, turgid dahlia got me logged in there, defcom1 gave me the final key from "Get back to your security settings... " forward.

All computers in the network, including the new one, can now connect.

Thanks for all the help, everybody, and thanks for a laugh when I needed it, selton.
posted by jaruwaan at 8:07 AM on November 5, 2009

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