Do you think someone is hanging on your Wi-Fi network to access the internet? The first warning signal is that your connection becomes particularly slow and nothing improves, even if you restart your router. If in your case you have connected some computers, a couple of phones and a smart TV connected, you will probably notice a slowdown in speed when an intruder starts watching Netflix movies through your network. If you wonder how to know if my Wi-Fi connection is stolen, in this article you will find not one, but several answers.
Of course, you do not want any unauthorized device to connect to your personal Wi-Fi network, both because of the performance problems that it causes and because of the security risk it represents. In short: if something strange is happening with your Wi-Fi, it is important that you check and solve the problem as soon as possible (and, incidentally, remove that unauthorized sabandija from your network). We explain how to do it.
Is someone stealing your wifi?
If you only have few Wi-Fi devices in your home, you may want to disconnect or turn them off, and then see the wireless signal light on your router. If the light keeps flashing, it could mean that someone else is using your wifi.
However, this method only works if you can be sure that all the wireless devices you have are turned off, which may not be easy in many homes. Therefore, we present two detailed methods to verify if you should worry about wifi thieves, regardless of the configuration you have.
Method 1: use an application
There is a wide variety of applications available for automatic searches for unusual devices registered on your Wi-Fi network. Verification of those devices, especially if they are connected at odd times of the day, can provide valuable clues. Here are some applications that can help you identify problems.
Extensin Wi-Fi Thief Detector: This Google extension is easy to download and is designed to produce fast results. Show you how many devices are connected to your router, help you detect foreign devices and link you to the configuration to make the changes you need quickly.
Paessler PRTG Router Monitoring:Paessler's solution is a complete set of router management tools, which includes automatic detection of foreign traffic, how the network is being used, and other tools with in-depth details. It may be a bit extreme for the average owner worried about their neighbors, but it is an excellent tool for small businesses worried about someone in their network without permission. We suggest you choose the free 30-day trial, which should be enough to eliminate any problem.
F-Secure Router Checker:F-Secure is a web-based tool that is useful if you want to avoid unauthorized downloads. This platform checks if there is more serious piracy, specifically, it looks for signs that someone is using configuration settings stealthily to hijack your Internet, which can be useful for more difficult cases.
Wireless Network Watcher:This independent software is designed to help Windows and MacOS users detect suspicious wireless activities, and monitor all devices connected to their network. It is similar to Wi-Fi Inspector, but with wider compatibility if you don't want to use a Google application.
Fing:Fing is an iOS download that offers more protection oriented to mobile devices. It allows you to immediately see the connected devices, what type of devices they are, the nature of the connection, the MAC address, etc. You can also check the behavior of the Wi-Fi connection to take into account the particularly busy hours that could indicate that someone else is jumping into your network.
Method 2: verify administrator records
If you suspect that someone is stealing your Wi-Fi, you must log in to the administration page of your router. Most systems can do this by typing "192.168.1.1" or "192.168.2.1" in the address bar of the browser.
Once you have accessed the administration page, you must locate the page that lists the different Media Access Control (MAC) addresses that are connected to your computer. The location of this page will vary depending on the router, but you can find it in "wireless settings", "wireless status" or in the list of "DHCP clients". You can use this list to count how many devices are connected to your Internet. If you see more MAC addresses than the number of devices in your home, it is likely that someone is stealing your Internet.
Note: Older phones, game consoles, Wi-Fi enabled cameras and other connected devices may appear in the MAC address list. You can have better control over what MAC address the device represents, using a website like macvendors.com.
How to keep internet thieves away
If you suspect someone is stealing your wifi, initially it is a good idea to strengthen security. If you do not have a password in your network, it is imperative that you add one. If you still use the default name and password of the router you purchased, you should change them, and you can easily do it from the administration page of your router. Then we explain how to do it.
To change your password, look for the key that is in the security settings. Keep in mind that changing your wireless password deactivates all current devices (including thieves), so you will have to reconnect all your devices once you have a new password.
To change the name of your router, locate the Service Set Identifier. This is usually found in the wireless configuration menu. Once this is done, you can change the name of your router.
Finally, it is important to use the strongest wireless network encryption and encryption you can find, which is currently WPA2. If your router is manufactured before 2006, it may not be compatible with WPA2 encryption. If that is the case, we suggest you plan to buy a new router, and thus make sure that nobody is stealing your internet signal.
Remove strangers from your wifi
So far, all good, but what do you do if you find strangers in your wifi and want to get rid of them? The easiest and fastest method is to change your WPA2 password for something more complex. This will eliminate all the devices in the network, which will allow you to log in again and prevent the entry of those who do not have the password. This will be enough to deter casual thieves from future efforts, although you should frequently monitor the connected devices.
Another option is to look for an alternative on the administration page of your router that says MAC filtering, Device filtering or something similar. This way, you can add MAC numbers to a list of blocked devices. Choose the extra MAC numbers of unknown devices and add them to this list. This is not infallible, since MAC addresses can be falsified, but this will be quite unusual in home networks.
* Article updated by Rodrigo Orellana on January 8, 2020.