Most Americans worry they are losing control over their personal data, but these same people fail to follow the best digital security practices.
If you’re worried about someone getting access to your personal information, you need to make sure you have the proper security to protect yourself.
And the first step is to protect against a wifi stealer.
Take a look at this guide to figure out if someone else is using your wifi and how to keep them from downloading your personal information.
How Can I Tell if Someone Else is Using My Wifi?
Because a wifi stealer sucks up some of your bandwidth, your internet will start to run slower than before.
You can tell your internet is running slow when things have a hard time loading. Maybe a simple webpage takes 30 to 60 seconds to load, or your Youtube videos are stuck buffering for several minutes.
Streaming shows and movies from places like Netflix will also be a problem.
Slow internet doesn’t always mean you have a wifi stealer. If you know for sure your family are the only ones using your internet (you’ll be able to figure this out after finishing this post), you should find another way to make your internet run faster.
But if your family has used the same wifi plan with the same devices for years or months and never had a problem, you may have someone else hopping onto your network.
Why Should I Worry About People Using My Wifi?
People use your internet for all kinds of reasons. Some may not be bad reasons, but you should always take action to get these people off your wifi for safety reasons.
The Not as Big Wifi Stealer Problems
If someone is using your wifi, it’s usually for innocent reasons. Odds are your neighbors just got a little lazy and decided to use your wifi to check their emails and watch their Netflix shows.
Typically, the most harm a wifi stealer will do is cost you some extra money. Most houses have a data cap, and other people using your wifi can cause you to go over, making your wifi bill go up.
This in and of itself is a reason to get that person off your wifi. But aside from giving you slow internet and bigger bills, situations like these don’t generally have any other problems.
But you should be worried about people using your wifi because they very easily could create other problems.
The Very Big Wifi Stealer Problems
If someone has access to your wifi, they have access to your entire network. That means they can see and download most everything on your network, private or important files included.
The person using your wifi might not be your neighbor, and even if it is, your neighbor might not be as trustworthy as you think. Hackers or people with the express desire to hurt you can mess with your important information and give you all kinds of trouble.
Sometimes, people are only using your wifi to perform criminal activities. They’ll do these activities on your wifi so their own wifi stays clean. Because guess whose door the authorities will be knocking on when they notice the criminal activity?
It was done on your wifi, so they’re coming to you.
These are just a few reasons you should be concerned if you think someone else is using your wifi. The truth is, you don’t know what those people are using your wifi for, so you need to get them off as soon as possible.
How Do Other People Connect to My Wifi?
In most cases, people only steal your wifi because you don’t have the right kind of security.
For example, if you haven’t bothered to change the original name of your router or set up a password, people can just click on your wifi and get on. When people see an open wifi network (one that’s not password protected), a lot of them just assume it is okay to use it.
Nine times out of 10, that is the problem. People who have to come up with a password to log onto your wifi usually just give up and try to find a different network.
Other people with other agendas can hack into a wifi network even if it has a password, which is why it’s important to get the best security for your network.
How Do Find Other People Who Are Using My Network?
There are a few different ways to do this, and they are all slightly different depending on what computer you have.
Check Your Router Light
An easy way to figure out if someone else is using your wifi is to check the lights on your router. Most routers will have a wireless light that turns on when any wireless device is connected. If you disconnect all your wireless devices and the light is still on, you have a wifi stealer.
But this method isn’t without fault. You have to make sure every single wireless device you own is disconnected, and it is easy to overlook a few things you didn’t realize had a wireless connection.
Unless you know for sure you got everything turned off, you should stick with a better test.
Check Your Router Device List
To check your router’s device list, you first have to get onto your router’s IP address.
After you get in, you have to look for a section about connected devices. It will look different on every computer, but it could be a category called attached devices, my network, or device list.
Once you see all the devices that are connected, you can check them on your family’s devices and find out which one doesn’t match up.
Use an App
There are a number of apps out there specifically designed to search for unusual devices on your network.
These apps include Wi-Fi Inspector, F-Secure Router Checker, Wireless Network Watcher, and Fing.
Just download the apps and they’ll get to work catching that wifi stealer.
What Do I Do If I Find a Wifi Stealer?
The short answer, upgrade your security.
Change your router name and password right away. This will kick all devices currently on the network off until they can provide the right password.
You should also make sure you’re using the strongest wireless encryption available, and right now, that’s WPA2. If your router is too old to support WPA2, it’s probably time to get a new one.
Keep Your Wifi Secure
If you think you have a wifi stealer on your network, you need to get that person off your wifi as soon as you can. Check for their device on your router or with an app then change your router security to make sure they can’t get back on.
Want to update the security on your router but aren’t sure what to use? Contact us and we can get you started!