How Can I Tell if My Neighbor Is Stealing My Wi-Fi Connection?October 26th, 2009 by Jordan Gaither
Having a neighbor stealing wi fi from you is never a good thing, and you might think that there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Happily, you’re wrong about that.
How Can I Know?
The first thing to know is that when a computer is using a wireless Internet connection, each computer has an “IP address”, a series of numbers which is unique to that computer. Knowing this, you can use that address to find people using your wireless without your permission.
What Can I Do about It?
The best course of action would be to enable encryption on your router, which should come built in. Navigate to your Internet connections and enter the settings menu for your wireless connection. There you should be able to enable encryption and pick a password. For your own sake, don’t use the generic password provided to you; for a determined hacker, it’d be like you didn’t use one at all.
If you’ve enabled encryption and you’re STILL getting the feeling that someone is stealing your bandwidth, then more advanced defensive moves are required.
Most wireless routers come with a monitoring program of some sort, and that should tell you if more than one IP address is accessing your wireless network. Navigate to the DCHP client table, or in the case of Netgear routers the “attached devices” list, and see if there’s a computer there that doesn’t have your permission to be there. Once found, you can direct your wireless router to block that IP address, and thus cut off your pilfering neighbor once and for all.
What if that Doesn’t Work for Me?
If your router doesn’t have something like that built into the software, don’t despair, you can still snoop around and find out if someone’s on your network, you’ll just have to put in a bit more work. Wireless routers keep a log of which IP addresses logged onto the network, when, and for how long. By familiarizing yourself with the layout of this log, you can quickly scan through it for signs of any shady activity. First, find out what your IP address is, and then look for any that deviate from yours.
I’m not very Technological…
If all else fails or your technological skills just aren’t up to the challenge, there are a number of programs one can buy that will keep unwanted intruders from accessing your wireless network without your permission. One example is Trend Micro PC-cillin, which will notify you when it blocks a pirate signal, but there are lots of programs that will do the same thing.
My advice is to spend some time on Google looking up your exact problem and solutions to it. Be as specific as you can with your information, including the make and model of your computer, router, type of Internet service provider, etc.
As a last resort, consider taking your computer into a computer repair store and having a professional look at it. More often than not, they’ll see something you and I just don’t have the experience to notice.
The most vital thing is to not get discouraged; for every person out there trying to steal your Internet, there’s a dozen who’ll help you get it back!
Jordan Gaither: I’m a Communications major by trade, an artist by choice, a welder by day and a dancer by night (Okay, I made that last part up). Having lived in a succession of cramped, oddly-shaped apartments, I have a wealth of personal experience in apartment living, as well as arranging and decorating to maximize effect and livable space.