Internet, since its inception, has come a long long way from being exclusive to university researchers and scholars. Now it’s there in everyone’s pockets with their smartphones and a huge number of homes, offices and public places have got Wi-Fi accessibility. With the spurt in the number of Wi-Fi routers over the years, it is very much possible for someone else to use your Wi-Fi connection if it is not secured properly. So, here we tell you how to detect if someone is piggybacking your Wi-Fi connection i.e. using it without permission and the steps you need to take to secure it.
1. Slow internet connection
Is your Wi-Fi connection slowing down? Has the internet speed been dropping down a lot since the past few days? While there are other reasons for a slow connection, like server issues, network-obstructing walls and objects, or it is also possible that someone has hopped onto your connection and is using it.
2. Spotting the intruder through the list of connected devices
Each device that is or will be connected to your private network comes with a unique IP and MAC address (they may have a random name like ‘ABC’s PC’ as named by the owner) and can be seen in the list of connected devices (clients) through the router settings. So, if you find some random name on your network that you don’t recognise, that, in most likelihood, is the intruder! Even if you don’t see a name, you can still find out who the intruder is by checking the number of connected devices and finding out the one that you don’t recognise.
Here are some ways to safeguard your Wi-Fi network:
1. Setting up a long and complex WPA2 password
WPA2 is an encryption protocol and stands for Wi-Fi Protected Access. WPA2 is newer and more secure than older protocols like WPA, WEP etc. As a user, you just need to set up WPA2 security on the Wi-Fi router and protect it with a strong password. Needless to say, come up with something long and complex that you can remember and which cannot be guessed.
2. Changing the router's login information
Most of the Wi-Fi routers come with these two IP addresses: 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.2.1 and they can be accessed from any browser. Most router manufacturers use words like ‘root’ and ‘admin’ as login and password and once logged in, you have access to the router’s settings. Since logging in is pretty easy considering the password is so easy, anyone can get into your router settings. To prevent this, change the router’s login information from something other than ‘admin’.
3. Hiding the SSID of the router
A more effective way to secure the network is to hide the SSID of the router. This ensures that it doesn’t show up only as a connectable network. You’ll have to enter the address manually.
4. Using Internet monitoring software
There are some software like AirSnare that you can use which will alert you when an unknown device is detected on your network.