Who Is Stealing Your WiFi

May 21, 2013 by in Bob Rankin

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.

Article Continued Here

Excerpt shared with permission from Bob Rankin.

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.

33 Responses to Who Is Stealing Your WiFi

  1. David Earle says:

    I was expecting to read in this article some ideas on how to detect and how t block users. I found the excerpt to be good information. I think that if you want to protect yourself make any inventory of your MAC addreass's in your home. Also go into the router setup a very strong password and then assing manually the MAC address that have permission and then you effectively block out any other users.


  2. Jackie Gill says:

    How to Detect and Defeat Wifi Intruders? But how?


  3. Kevin Doty says:

    go into your router and see what us on your network… know what is suppose to be on your network… kickoff what is not suppose to be change pass word.


  4. I agree…where's the beef! I thought you were going to show how to find out who is watching you when you are on the WIFI. There is no mention of community WIFI such as what you might have at a McDonalds or coffee shop or at a motel where anyone can get on without a password.


  5. dextermat says:

    If you want to know who is stealing your wifi :

    1- log into your router and check for client status: give you name, ip addresses and mac addresses of all client on the network.

    Depending on the router brand, this function works differently and some are more accurate than others.

    2- download ipsniffer or scanner for free.

    If you see more clients that it supposed to have :you might have someone leeching your internet.


  6. Ralph says:

    To all of you “experts” who panned the article: go back to your mom’s basement and play some more WOW. You are the last people I’d send anyone to for advice, since the fact that they need advice means that, as mere mortals, they’re beneath your consideration. Sheesh.


    • Pat says:

      @Ralph: Yes, I agree. So many people in all kinds of forums have no patience, are intolerant, unkind, and extremely arrogant. We all should remember where WE started with little or no knowledge on whatever subject. I just don’t know what has gotten into people. It’s a sad state of affairs.


  7. ''Bob Rankin is a translator for the technology impaired''.
    need I say more?


  8. anon says:

    If you all had read this first…Perhaps you would not have wasted your time
    “About Bob Rankin
    Bob Rankin is a translator for the technology impaired” He does not in any way state that he is giving highly technological information. I thought the article was perfectly geared to his target audience.I would have welcomed this article back when I was a newbie and soaking up every tidbit if info I could find.


  9. Ronald Delacruz says:

    All WEP’s passwords of ours wifi routers are easily cracked in little minutes with free software available on internet (BT5, Kali linux), then the best is to use at least WPA key’s during a couple of months and then to change it newly.


  10. Rupe says:

    Wow! So many of you with an education should know better then to spam free advice. I guess you never gave consideration that there are people who may benefit from such advise. There are new users every day who have no idea about computer security. I have a degree in Information Systems Management and Database Management, but still take a minute to scan these articles. Needed or not, I am thankful that this information is readily available. Instead of posting negative comments, perhaps you might think of something more useful that readers may benefit from. Peace to all.


  11. Chris says:

    Here’s an idea, how about titling the article to describe what it’s actually about. I hate being misled over an interesting topic only to find a regurgitation of wireless networking 101!


  12. Ron Quesada says:

    Bob is just making his paycheck. This article is very misleading. Like so many here, I too thought I would learn some other secret way of "detecting" and "learning" how to deal with "bandwidth bandits" at an even greater level than just looking at your router's UI? Maybe articles like these should have a user level ranking such as "beginner" information to at least know on some degree how technical that information will be or not be? It's great for a beginner, but not an advanced user.


  13. Mike Rebate says:

    Open networks were common 8 years ago. Most are secured now.


  14. Tarek Hassan says:

    He wanted to say be careful, it is a social report, not a technical report.


  15. I was misled too. I thought you were going to give people a link so they could find out who is stealing their internet. My neighbor's son learned how to do this when he was in prison so it can't be that hard for someone to do. He's an idiot.


  16. MGM says:

    WOW – this is a tough crowd! I have been an IT professional since 1994 and while the article does not reveal anything new for those of us who already know, I am sure there are readers without experience who just might benefit from the material contained in the article. Although it gave me no additional information, I certainly do not feel the need to spout a condescending tone. I guess we all do have the right to be or not to be that way. Every day, I read technical articles that are a rehash of what is already out there but I feel no need to point that out. I am certain that someone will learn something. We are only 10% or less and unless we are holding the hand of everyone we know who does not have the technical prowess that we possess, the information is beneficial to the 90% or more. Kudos to the author!


  17. James Krewson says:

    Good article. Your average user is not familiar with entering the router configuration. Most PC users are not serious computer geeks, but are casual users. Thanks for the information.


  18. Marvin says:

    Nothing new in this article. I was thinking expecting something heavy here… oh well…


  19. Vinay Teja Reddy says:

    whatta waste of time.


  20. Roland Wee says:

    Can anyone steal your bandwidth if you are using mobile internet?


  21. even kids know that already, I thought you were going to say how to detect computers by IP or even MAC. Otherwise your articul is boring.


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