Does your Internet Connection feel slow lately? Do downloads takes much more time than ever before? Do videos take too long to buffer or get played in lower resolution than expected? Then there is a slight chance that someone might be piggybacking on your WiFi network secretly.
That someone could be your neighbor and you might not mind him borrowing a bit of your data connection bandwidth. But what someone else or may be even your neighbor is using your connection for illegal activities, if that happens and the authorities try to track down the criminal, they will end up Knocking at your door.
Even if that is not the case and you just wanna check if someone from outside the family is using your connection and making it slow then there are quite a number of ways you can find out.
But before getting into all this you must understand basic computer networking lingo as it is gonna help you in setting up a secure a network connection.
Your Router has a list of all the devices that are allowed or are currently connected to the network in a table what is called Dynamic Host Client Protocol (DHCP) table.
Every computing equipment or a device has its own unique address or you can say code which is known as Media Access Control (MAC) address. The router uses a MAC address to assign each device on your network a unique Internet Protocol (IP) address which allows the device to get connected. This MAC address and IP address can be used to detect if someone else is using your network which we will explain in a moment on how to check it.
Routers have an administration page which allows you to change the settings of the router, you can access this page via the address http://192.168.1.1 in a Web browser or you can check for the address of your router in the user manual.
Your router also has various types of security encryption including: WEP, WPA and WPA2 to choose from. The WPA 2 is the most secure way of protecting your connection.
Now you have known enough and you are ready to detect and stop if someone is stealing your WiFi.
First, you need to make sure that your router is secured by a password if your router is unsecured anyone with in the range can hop on it with just a click.
To assign a password to your router login to the administration page by entering the router’s IP address in the browser, then you will need to enter user name and password which by default is ‘root’ and ‘admin’, once you have logged in the administration page go to security options which should be present in the menu. From here choose WPA 2 as the security encryption and type in a strong password with the combination of numbers, symbols and upper and lower case letter so that no one will be able to guess it.
Once your router is secured with a password you need to find the DHCP option which can usually be found under the ‘wifi configuration’ or ‘wifi status’ tab. Here you will find a list of all the devices that are connected to your network. You can count the number of devices on the list and then count the devices that you have and if there is an extra device it means somebody is probably stealing your WiFi.
Turn off the WiFi of all your devices to detect which device on the list is not yours, then you can block this device which will prevent it from accessing your network.
Some devices can also appear by name For Example: If Jack’s Computer appear on the list and you have got no jack in the house then you know what to do.
You can also turn on MAC filter which will only allow your devices to get connected and disabling access for unknown devices but this will make it a bit tougher if some guest or a friend arrive at your home, you will have to add their device to the list to give access.
There are also various Internet monitoring software available which will provide you with many options to work with and can even notify you if a new device logs on to your network. Few popular software include: AirSnare, WiFi Inspector, Wireless Network Watcher, F-secure Router Checker etc.
As long as your router is secured with a password you should not worry much about it as only a specialized hacker can get past the security and crack your password.
Lastly, it is important to use the latest WPA2 security network encryption, but if your router does not have this encryption it means that it was built prior to 2006 and now it is the time that you should think about upgrading your router.