Detecting Wi-Fi Thieves and How to Stop Them
Lots of homes have Wi-Fi networks. They’re great for easily sharing your internet connection around your home. Your network is available to anyone who can pick up the signal — and you may find that someone is using yours without your permission.
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Wi-Fi thieves are freeloading off your internet, and it can cause you a number of problems. Many internet connections have data limits and limited speeds. You don’t want someone causing your Netflix to run slowly when you’re trying to watch a movie, and you also don’t want people using up all your data for free.
If you use your home network to share files between devices, then an intruder can also get access to all your personal files. They could even read your personal emails, gain access to bank accounts, or cause damage to your computer.
There are a number of things you can do to detect Wi-Fi thieves.
Most routers will have a number of lights which will flash and show you if any data is being transferred. Ensure that all devices connected to your Wi-Fi are turned off and then look at the lights on the router. If they’re still flashing, then data is still being transferred through the router. If you notice that data is being used when you have nothing connected to your Wi-Fi, you should check to see who is connected to your home network.
Check the Router
You can get a list of all connected devices if you log into the router. To do this, you should enter the IP address of the router into your browser. In most cases it’s either 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1. If either of these IP addresses don’t work, then you’ll need to find out what it is. Go to your command line and type “ipconfig/all” to find the correct IP address.
You will need your username and password to login. The default usernames and passwords can usually be found in the instruction manual that came with the router; sometimes they’re printed on the box it came in. If your router is still set to the default settings, then you should change them immediately. If your internet service provider set up your home network, they probably will have changed the password. In this case, you’ll need to contact them to find out both your username and password.
Once logged in to the admin area, you should look for something which provides you with a list of connected devices, likely called something like “Wireless Stats.” On this screen you will see a list of all devices which are currently connected to your router. If you have ensured that all your devices are turned off and there are still items in the list, then someone is using your internet without your permission.
Routers will usually give you the MAC address of the device that is connected to your network. This won’t help to identify the intruder, so you’ll want to get some more information. There are free apps and programs available to download which will list every device connected to your network. They will also get the device’s name, which may help you to identify the culprit.
Stop People Stealing your Wi-Fi
It should now be apparent if someone is connected to your network without your knowledge. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to prevent them from stealing your Wi-Fi.
Many people give out their Wi-Fi password to their friends and neighbors. It’s possible that your Wi-Fi thief is an innocent neighbor. You might have given them the password for your Wi-Fi when they were in your house. Most devices will automatically save the login information and users will be automatically connected as they come within range of your network. It’s possible that your neighbor is unaware that they’re using your network and not theirs.
So you should first change the password. To further increase security, you should consider changing your password regularly.
Some people may be hacking your password to gain access. Your router will have a number of security options to prevent this. You should avoid WEP, as it uses old technology and is easy to hack. Always use WPA2 encryption, as it’s a lot more difficult to hack and will keep your network more secure.
You can also set your router to hide the network’s name (SSID). If your SSID is not publicly visible, it will be more difficult for people to know that you have a wireless router, and it will be less of a target for those looking to use your Wi-Fi without your permission. If you want to connect a network that is hiding the SSID, you will need to know both the SSID and the password.
Having people using your internet without your permission is annoying. It can slow down your internet and take up your bandwidth. It could even end up costing you more money if you go over your data cap. On top of this, people connected to your network could also gain access to all your personal files saved on your computer.
To stop people logging in to your network, you should ensure that you change the password regularly, use WPA2 encryption, and hide your SSID so that it isn’t broadcasted publicly. This won’t stop the most determined hackers, but it will keep out nearly everyone else.