Who Is Stealing Your WiFi
By Bob Rankin
Is your wireless Internet connection sometimes mysteriously slow? It’s possible that you’re sharing it with a stranger. But how can you know for sure if a neighbor or a malicious hacker has tapped into your WiFi? Read on to learn how you can detect bandwidth bandits, and give them the boot…
How to Detect and Defeat WiFi Intruders
There are many possible reasons why your wireless Internet connection suddenly slows to a crawl. An unauthorized user stealing your bandwidth is one of them. It is unlikely that such a bandwidth thief will access your WiFi network if you have implemented the basic WiFi security described in my article, Wireless Network Security Checklist. But it’s certainly a possibility that should be checked. Anyone with the skills and determination to hack your secured network is probably up to serious criminal activity.
There are many casual, even “innocent” bandwidth thieves who see an available network and just assume it’s OK to “borrow” it. If they are challenged for a password when they attempt to log on, they’ll probably just give up and move on to another target. If you haven’t bothered to assign a wifi access password, the front door to your network is wide open. If you’re not sure why that’s a bad idea, see The WiFi Security Mistake You Must Avoid.
A real cybercriminal is another matter. He is out to steal something of value from you or others. He may peruse computers on your network for identity and financial information he can use or sell. He may use your Internet connection to download files illegally or hack other networks, setting you up as the fall guy when the crime is traced back to your router. This sort of crook has the tools and skills needed to defeat most WiFi security measures, especially if you have a weak password.
Windows and Apple computers have built-in utilities that show what devices are connected to your network. You can use these tools to look for unknown computers that should not be connecting to your network. Obviously, the first step is to know what devices are authorized. Each authorized computer should be assigned a computer name that you can recognize easily, i.e., “Jane’s PC” or “Billy-iPod”. Other devices, such as printers, will have built-in names such as “HP Model 8600;” you should be familiar with what you own.
Excerpt shared with permission from Bob Rankin.
About Bob Rankin
Bob Rankin is a translator for the technology impaired -- a writer and computer programmer who enjoys exploring the Internet and explaining technology in plain English. His work has appeared in Computer World, NY Newsday, and other publications. Bob is also publisher of Internet TOURBUS, author of several computer books, and creator of the Lowfat Linux tutorial.