Home Networks and Wireless access is booming in households now, and quite often you hear stories about people getting fined for neighbours or people on the street downloading illegal material of your internet account. So how do you find out who has been using your internet, and how to stop people from access your home network and confidential files on your computer?
So what are some signs you can look out for and notice to see if someone is actually using your internet?
- Your internet is being slowed
- Your ISP is shaping you (or charging you extra) for going over your download limit
- Your shared computer files are being modified
- Your router log shows other computers have accessed the network
So if you think someone is using your internet, what should you do and why are they doing it?
Why And How Would Someone Steal My Internet?
The most common reasons why people steal your internet is:
- They don’t currently have access to their own internet (or even through their own mobile internet)
- They want to download something that will go over their limit so they would use yours.
- They want to do something illegal like download porn, music or movies
- They want to access your computer and steal your data and information
There are plenty of other reasons, but these are the most common.
So how do people access your home network and steal your internet is all in how your network is configured. The most common way how people access your network is by having an unsecured wireless network. In the image, the highlighted SSID is my neighbours, and lucky for him, it has been secured. So to get in, I would need to know their WPA2 key (which I don’t know). People may try common keys like 123456 or password to see if they get in, so it’s best not to use a word or number sequence.
How To Find Out If Someone Is Actually Using My Internet
There are many different ways to do this, but I will show you are few common ways on how you can tell. The first and probably the easiest way are to see what computers your computer can find on the network. It’s quite simple to do, simply open up your Network Settings and see what devices are currently switched on. If there are devices you don’t recognise the names of, they may be your neighbours or some stranger off the street.
The second way to tell is to log on to your router/modem and see what devices are connected. To find out the IP address of your router, open up command prompt and type ipconfig and enter the Default Gateway IP Address into your web browser. In my case, it’s 10.1.1.1 (yours may be like 192.168.0.1)
Once you have logged in, you will see something under LAN or DHCP, and that will likely list all the computers that have been connected to your network.
You may notice that there is one extra computer in that list (compared to the image above of the 4 computers), but that’s computer is one of mine, and it’s connected via Ethernet, so unless someone has a physical line to my router, I know I can trust it.
How To Secure My Home Wireless Network?
It’s actually quite simple to do, and while you are logged into your routers homepage, you my as well check your security now.
Basically, if you have a wireless router or access point, you want to have an encryption key set up, so only people who know that key can access your network. If you don’t have an encryption key, anyone near your house can connect to your home network and use your internet.
To set this up, go to your Wireless configuration page and just set up your key – it’s quite simple.
To also safeguard your home network, you can also use MAC filtering. MAC stands for Media Access Control. Every network device has one of these, so if you go to the MAC filtering settings on your router, you can set which devices can use the network. For example, say if you have set up MAC Address filtering to only allow one (your) computer to access the internet, if you don’t have a wireless encryption key setup on your router, and a stranger connects, they will not be able to connect to the internet because your MAC Address filter will block it. So to double safeguard your network, you should enable both.
So hopefully, you have now secured your home network, learnt how to safeguard your home network and find out how to find out who is using your internet.
If you have discovered from this post that someone is in fact stealing your internet, you may be interested in reading this article “What you can do if your neighbour is stealing your wifi“.
If you have any questions about this post, please post in the comments or contact me directly.