The internet has become an important part of our lives. Many people have a high speed internet connect which they share around their house with Wi-Fi. People you don’t know may also be able to see your Wi-Fi signal and in some cases they might be using it for free.
Most ISPS have a data cap and customers have to pay extra if they go over their monthly limit. If someone is stealing your Wi-Fi, you have no control over how much data they are using. Also, they might be using your internet connection to view illegal websites which could cause you unnecessary stresses.
Moreover, if someone you don’t know is connected to your home network, they may have access to all your personal flies and folders and could even gain access to some of your online accounts, such as your personal email or digital banking.
On top of this, you may notice that your Wi-Fi is slow. This uninvited visitor on your home network could be using up all of your bandwidth meaning that you can’t watch your favorite Netflix shows because your internet is too slow.
It’s very important to keep your home network safe and the following steps will guide you through the process of detecting a Wi-Fi Thief. You will also learn what you can do to keep your home network safe from freeloaders.
Check your Router
In most cases, routers have a number of lights on the front panel. Some of these lights indicate the traffic which is going through your internet connect. The simplest and easiest way to know if someone is stealing your internet is to disconnect all your devices and see if the lights are still flashing. If they are, it means that data is still passing through the connection.
If you are sure that you’ve disconnected all your devices, then you should take this a sign for further investigation. Even if the lights aren’t flashing, you should still perform the following checks.
Log in to you Router
All routers come with an admin screen or dashboard which allows you to change your internet settings such as your SSID name and your password. To log in, you’ll need to enter the IP address of your router into your browser.
Most router manufacturers use a standard IP address such as 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1. To get the correct IP address, you can check the box or the instructions that came with the router. Alternatively, on Windows operating systems, type IPCONFIG into the command line and look for your default gateway. It will provide you with the IP address of your router.
You’ll then need to type your username and password. This usemame and password will be different from your Wi-Fi password and you can usually find the default username and password settings on the box or the underside of the router. A router set to the default settings is a security risk and should be changed immediately.
Sometimes your ISP may have changed this information when they installed your internet connection. In this instance, you’ll need to contact them to provide you with your usemame and password.
Once you have successfully logged in to your router, you need to search for a list of connected devices. This is usually found in “Wireless Statistics”, but the actual wording may differ depending on the model of your router.
Now you can see an exact list devices connected to your home network. You can use this information to compare with your known devices.
Most routers only provide you with a MAC address of the hardware connected to the router. For most people this information won’t be useful in finding the Wi-Fi thief as it only shows us that someone is connected to the router and doesn’t help to identify them easily. To get more information about who is connected to your router, download some free software which will tell you who is connected to your home network. Most of these programs will give you the MAC address as well as the name of device. For example, you might see a MAC address followed by the devices name: 29-7F-8A-64-2C – B8, John’s Computer. One popular app is called “Who Is On My WiFi” and it’s available for Windows, iOS and Android operating systems.
If you have found a device that you don’t recognize, then it should now be clear that someone is stealing your Wi-Fi and you may have enough information to find out who it is
I’ve Found the Wi-Fi Thief, What Next?
There are many things you should be doing to protect your Wi-Fi and reduce the chances of someone illegally using your internet connection. Complete all the steps below to keep your home network safe.
On most routers, you can provide a list of MAC addresses that are allowed to connect to your router. If the device’s MAC address isn’t on this list, it can’t connect. This can sometimes be cumbersome because if you get a new computer, or a friend comes over and wants to log in, you’ll need to add this device to the list first.
Alternatively, you also have the thief s MAC address, so use this information to block specific MAC addresses from accessing your home network. Again, this is usually done in your router’s admin panel. However, this will only block one specific device and the hacker could easily change devices and gain access again.
You should change your Wi-Fi password regularly, especially if you have given it to people who have visited your home. Neighbors may be mistakenly connected to your Wi-Fi and using your bandwidth instead of their own. Once you change the password, they will need to enter the correct password to stay connected.
When setting your password, you should ensure that you are using the more modern WPA/WPA2 standards. The older WEP encryption has many known flaws and is known to be easy to hack.
It’s also possible to set your SSID name to be hidden and not be broadcasted. To connect to your Wi-Fi, someone would need to know your Wi-Fi name before they can find your signal as it won’t be publicly visible for everyone to see. This method is meant to deter would be thieves because if they know your SSID name and password, they can still log in.
If you have found that someone is stealing your Wi-Fi, you should try these methods to stop them from connecting again. By following these simple security measures, you can reduce the chances of someone being able to connect to your home network.
Don’t let your neighbours wittingly or unwittingly steal your Wi-Fi and reduce your quality of service and increase your bills. Perform regular checks to see who is on your network and change your password regularly to keep your Wi-Fi safe.