Friday, April 29, 2016

Lost passwords

Lost WiFi passwords

Q. How can I find the WiFi password on my router?

If you know the login information to configure your router, just connect to it as an administrator and go to the Wireless > Security section.(1) The password should display there.

If you have a device that already connects to that router, you may be able to extract the password from it. Windows 7 (and XP) will display the plaintext password under Manage wireless networks in the Network and Sharing section. Some Android devices will also show the plaintext saved password.

If you’ve moved past Windows 7(2) (even as an upgrade), the password is not shown in the interface. It still is available as plaintext if you know where to look in the system. The easiest way to do that is with a utility; which I have recently done.

I usually document my research well, but can’t find exactly what I looked at or why this time. There may be a hint in my caveats, below(3). I thought my original impetus was an article in WindowsSecrets, but can’t find it now. You may be able to search for Key Finders on their site.

I did look at Magical Jelly Bean ( and NirSoft ( and eventually used a keyfinder program from Magical Jelly Bean to recover WiFi passwords on a Win10 computer. Both sites had been vetted and recommended … somewhere. A colleague frequently uses Magical Jelly Bean.

The program quickly displayed a list of almost 3 dozen sites I had connected to in the past with this computer with SSID, password, and some technical information. I captured it as a screenshot, blacked out my sites, and printed it to carry with my laptop. Yes, this exposes passwords for many friends and relatives to anyone who steals my bag. But there is no connection between my papers and my friends so all the thief can do is drive around the country looking for the SSID.

It is as important to protect your WiFi password as any other. You may not mind someone using your bandwidth, but anyone connected to your network (either WiFi or wired) could invade any computer on your system – and “computer” includes your phones, game devices, and connected appliances (like a thermostat or light controller) as well. Then any data or settings on them could be vulnerable to attack by stealing the data or malicious destruction. And one of those computers you don’t think of as such is more likely susceptible to becoming a gateway from the outside for bad guys to do even more harm.


Notes and resources:

(1)     If you don't know the login for your router, you can return it to the default settings by pressing a recessed button with a pin. Then you must completely reconfigure all of your settings. Of course, if you don't know the login, you may have never changed the default settings. See my article for tips on critical settings to customize.

(2)     If you’ve got anything with Windows 7 (or XP) that connects with WiFi, you can display the password for each network directly in Windows. With Windows 7, find it at:
Control Panel\Network and Internet\Manage Wireless Networks – Get there from
Network and Sharing Center > Manage wireless networks (on left sidebar) > Security tab

(3)     As always, when researching and downloading non-commercial resources, ALWAYS be careful exactly where you click. (I sometimes use a sacrificial computer* to do my research and downloading.) I have a note with my saved passwords that this program tries to co-install a couple of unrelated programs that will return money to the publisher. For more information on using “free” software, see my post at (May 2016).

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