How To Detect if Someone’s Stealing Your Wi-Fi

By Subodh / May 3, 2015

Is your Wi-Fi connection running slow? Is it because of connectivity or is there some other reason?

Wi-Fi connections have become very popular nowadays. Majority of families used Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet through tablets, computers, laptops, printers and gaming consoles. Wi-Fi has numerous benefits over cabled Ethernet, like convenience and better connectivity.

However, in addition to these benefits, Wi-Fi connections also have certain disadvantages associated with them. Theft being one of them. While Wi-Fi provides you the luxury to access Internet anywhere around the house, it may also lead to theft and stealing by stranger or neighbours. Generally, if a neighbour is using your Wi-Fi connection without your permission or knowledge, it is considered as Wi-Fi theft. This becomes riskier if the intruder is able to access your personal files or information.

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Steps to Detect WI-Fi Theft

If you notice a fall in the speed in your Wi-Fi connectivity, try to find out if it is due to some problem with the server or someone is stealing on your Internet.

Step 1: The initial step to check for any theft is to take stock of the network. Log in to the router and go through the list of gadgets connected to the router. Every gadget has a unique IP address and MAC address. This would make it easier to detect intruders. Log in to this address. Once you are logged in, check for the section “Attached Devices” or “Device List”. For DD-WRT flashed routers, this list is provided under the Status -> Wireless screen. One click will show the list of all IP addresses in use.

Step 2: After you have checked the list of gadgets connected to your Wi-Fi, identify the known ones. Your computer would show up the list of gadgets with their names provided by the manufacturer. More often than not, these devices are named after the names of their owners. Compare the number of users on the list with the number of gadgets used at your home.

If, in any case, you are not able to make out the names of the gadgets, start switching off your gadgets one after the other. Once all the gadgets are switched off, the list should be blank if your neighbour or any outsider is not using your Internet. If you see any name remaining in the list, you have the culprit.

How to Check Wi-Fi Theft

Many times, people in the neighbourhood may get an access to your Wi-Fi network quite unintentionally. It might be only because an open wireless network in the area showed up on their device.

Now that you know about the theft or unwanted use of your Wi-Fi, it becomes imperative to take necessary steps to check this theft. Barging into the neighbours’ house to check the culprit is no solution. There are other ways to handle the situation. Some of them include:

  • Get a secure connection

The best way to safeguard your Internet connection is to get your connection secured with a password, WEP, WPA, or WPA2 security. Make sure the password is not known to anybody except you. This way, you can prevent unwanted use of your Wi-Fi connection.

  • MAC Address Filtering

Remember, every gadget has a unique MAC address, whether it is your computer, laptop, mobile phone, tablet or iPad. Go to the dashboard of the router and you will see the Wireless Mac Filter Section. Here, add the MAC addresses of all the familiar devices. This way, the Wi-Fi would be accessible only through the devices you have given permission to.

  • Change the SSID of your Wi-Fi

You can change the SSID of your router to prevent unwanted connections. For example, you can opt for something like c:\virus.exe to scare and prevent the neighbours from connecting to your Wi-Fi network.

Now that you know how to detect if someone’s stealing your Wi-Fi and what you can do to stop or prevent it, take the necessary steps to secure your connection right away.