How to Stop People Using Your Wi-Fi
Wednesday, 12th August 2020
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It may seem cheeky or downright rude, but believe it or not, it’s not uncommon for people to jump on someone else’s Wi-Fi network to browse, stream and download whatever they want! We know... shocking, right!
So how do you tell if you’ve got a Wi-Fi squatter? Well, there are a few telltale signs that someone else is using your Wi-Fi. For starters, you’ll find your bandwidth is greatly reduced, causing pages to take forever to load and videos to buffer for ages.
Other signs include devices dropping off the network for no apparent reason, additional charges on your monthly mobile bill despite having a capped data plan, or your Wi-Fi password being changed.
Now this may seem like just an inconvenience, but they’re more serious consequences of people using your Wi-Fi... they could steal your personal data!
If you’re concerned that someone else is using your Wi-Fi, here’s what you need to do to put a stop to it.
Look for unknown devices
It may sound like a no-brainer, but if you think that you’ve got a Wi-Fi squatter, check the devices connected to your network. If you spot ‘Unknown Device’ bingo!
To look for unknown devices, check your router’s app or web portal. Here you’ll find a list of unique IP addresses. Every device has its own unique IP and MAC (hardware) address. If you find an IP address that you don’t recognise as your own, delete it.
Make sure your Wi-Fi network is secure
If you don’t use a password to access your Wi-Fi, the big question is why not? Strong passwords make it very difficult for someone to get access to your personal data... and by leaving your network open, anyone can get access to it!
Getting rid of Wi-Fi squatters can be as easy as changing your Wi-Fi password. However, if you want something much more secure, then the best way to go is to encrypt network traffic with a WPA or WPA2 encryption.
By encrypting your Wi-Fi, as soon as someone sees that your router requires a new password, they’ll give up trying to use your Wi-Fi.
Why? There’s a one-in-a-million chance that they’ll be able to guess your password – if you’ve used a strong password, one that’s a jumble of uppercase, lowercase letters and numbers. If your password is something as obvious as your name, well, Wi-Fi squatters may just be able to guess that.
To make your Wi-Fi network more secure, you can change your network’s name (this is usually abbreviated as SSID) and disable the SSID broadcast. This makes it look like the network is offline to external users. No visible network, no squatting!
Advanced router security
Okay, so you’ve got a good password, one that no-one will be able to guess, you’ve removed devices with IP addresses that you don’t remember and made your network invisible. Is there anything else to stop determined squatters from accessing your network? Yes.
Having more advanced router security adds an extra layer of protection to your router. Start by adding MAC address filtering to your router. Do this and only the IP addresses of your devices will ever be able to use your network.
You could also limit the DHCH (dynamic host configuration protocol) IP addresses to the number of devices that you own and are using your network. This means that no other devices will be able to access your network, even if squatters have managed to get past your Wi-Fi password.
Also, don’t forget to disable Wi-Fi Protected Setup which allows a one-touch pairing of a device to a router. WPS-enabled routers are famed for getting hacked... in minutes!
Keep your eyes open
Don’t assume that your Wi-Fi is 100% secure and that it’s impossible for anyone to jump on your network. It’s not.
The less densely populated an area is, like the countryside, the less likely is it that you’ll have to shoo off Wi-Fi squatters, but whether you live in a large apartment block or a cottage in the countryside, you can discover squatters lurking around.
The good news is that there’s other little things that you can do to keep your network secure. From changing your admin credentials to updating the network name, changing things every now and then will keep your Wi-Fi network secure.
Can you stop people using your Wi-Fi?
In a word, yes. It’s rather easy... if you take the right precautions and are watchful. If you don’t, you’re running the risk of having to kick Wi-Fi squatters off your network again and again.
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