How to Tell If Someone Is Stealing Your Wi-Fi?

Suspicious that someone may be stealing your Wi-Fi speeds and bandwidth? It may be easier to find and get rid of them than you imagined. Explore how.

Has your internet service been acting up recently? Do your bandwidth and speed inexplicably shrink? Does this happen frequently?

If so, someone close by could be stealing your home Wi-Fi. Residential Wi-Fi networks make life so much easier, but you’re usually paying a significant amount for your Cox cable and renting your home Wi-Fi gateway or router. As a result, it is very understandable that you don’t want anybody but yourself or people in your home using it. It is a residential network, after all, not a public one for all and sundry.

Residential Wi-Fi Theft and How to Combat It

However, sometimes people don’t respect other people’s property. That includes their Wi-Fi network. Many will even use more ingenious methods than others to piggyback on your home network. But don’t worry if you don’t know how to tell. This blog will show you how you can not only detect unauthorized users or devices connected to your network but also how you can remove them and prevent them from trying again. Read on to find out more.

Detecting Wi-Fi Theft

The biggest problem most non-techies have is finding out if someone actually is stealing their Wi-Fi or not. This is especially true of boomers and older millennials. However, the modern world is nothing if not convenient. There are ways to do just about anything, including useful tools that can help you identify any unauthorized users on your home network. Here are a few ways to try out and confirm your suspicions:

Use the Status Indicator LEDs on Your Router

The easiest non-techie way to check for unauthorized devices connected to your home Wi-Fi is by examining the status indicator lights on your router. But first, you’ll have to disconnect any other wireless device in your home that uses the network. That includes IoT devices, Smart TVs, tablets, smartphones, laptops, and desktops. A device with an ethernet connection is alright though.

Once all devices are offline, look at the status LEDs. If they’re flickering or flashing, there may still be one or more devices connected to your network. This is a rough way to rule out that any of your own devices or your connection are to blame.

Try a Reliable Android or iOS Wi-Fi Detective App

These days, there is an app for everything. That includes several apps designed specifically to help people monitor lists of devices connected to their home network. A reliable app from Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store should do the trick.

The app connects to the network using your smartphone or tablet. It then “pings” other devices on your network. This allows it to not just identify the number of devices, but the device name and type as well. All you have to do is scan the network with your app, and check the list for any devices that you don’t recognize.

Check Your Router’s Desktop Application or Smartphone App

Most routers these days have a user-facing panel. This is usually included in the manufacturer’s official desktop application for the make or model of your router. Many manufactures also offer a simplified user dashboard on an official smartphone application too. The specifics depend on the router itself, but both forms of dashboards will usually contain something like a connection log or network map. Some routers may even show you the radio frequencies various devices are connected to. This should help you isolate any strange devices using the network that aren’t yours.

Look at Your Network Administrator Panel

Finally, if all else fails, check out the control panel your router offers. This is usually a specific web address that you need to enter into a browser. The resulting page is a network administrator panel, which allows you to examine your wireless network and get real-time lists of any connected devices. Logging into the actual panel differs based on the router you are using. But as a general rule, you usually require:

  • Your admin username.
  • The corresponding password.
  • Your IP address.

Removing Unwanted Devices

You’ve probably heard enough about ways to detect unauthorized devices. But what about removing them? There are two main ways to remove an unwanted device from your home Wi-Fi network. Luckily, both are fairly simple and don’t require too much effort or technical expertise on your part. These 2 methods include:

When using the router app or control panel, select an unauthorized device. Simply choose from the list of actions that the app offers. These will typically include blocking that device, permanently banning it, or ejecting it from the network immediately.

Instead of picking and choosing devices, remove all of them at the same time by setting a new Wi-Fi password. If you don’t already have a password-protected network, you should set one immediately. Try choosing a stronger alphanumeric password with symbols and varied case usage to make it harder to crack. Try choosing a different security level for your network, such as WPA2-AES.


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