There are always people that want something for nothing, and for some of them that might be your Internet. You need a secure Wi-Fi connection that will keep these freeloaders out. Not only are these moochers slowing down your Internet, but they may even have access to your shared folders. You also have the additional problem that if your moocher is doing something illegal, such as sharing movies or music, then you could be the one that has the authorities knocking on your door.
How to Get Secure Wi-Fi
There are a few easy methods to check if someone has been hijacking your Internet connection.
Check Your Router Lights
Your wireless router should have indicator lights that will show connectivity either hard wired or wireless. Possibly the easiest way to check if someone if using your Wi-Fi connection is to shut down all of your known wireless devices. If there is still a wireless light blinking then someone or something is using your Internet connection. The one problem with this is that you may have forgotten about a device, be sure to check your gaming systems, DVR, Blu-ray player, and even your phones or tablets could be using it.
Check Your Router List
By going into your router administrative panel you can see everything on the network, and change your security settings while you are at it. You access the administrative panel by pulling up the command prompt (Hold the Windows Key and at the same time) and typing ipconfig. You will have a new window pop up with a lot of IP numbers in it. You want the “Default Gateway” address.
Copy this number, paste it into your web browser and log in to your router. If you have never logged in to your router before then you can try some of the standards listed on the Port Forward website.
Once you are into your router menu look for something such as Device List, Attached Devices or Network. You are looking for a page that will give you a list of IP addresses and device names. Unfortunately each manufacturer uses their own terminology and layout, so it may take you a few minutes to locate.
Look at the list and compare it to the devices you are running in your home.
If you do find that you have a hijacker in your network, then the first thing you need to do is kick them off the network. Then change your security settings. If possible, make sure that your security is set to WPA2, which is considered the more secure of the common encryptions, and change your network password. For full information on securing your network check out this article on Setting Up a Secure Home Network.
Note: If you do need to run the less secure network settings such as WEP for specific devices, then set up a separate network that you only turn on when that devices needs access as this will not be a fully secure Wi-Fi connection.
Unfortunately, you can’t really identify who your hijacker is, unless they have named their computer and your router had picked up the name (some routers will). There is software out there that will help you identify the hitchhiker if they reconnect to your network, but now that you have secured your system, it might just be a waste of money for you.
Now that you have secured your network and booted off any potential freeloaders you might find that it’s moving a little faster. If it still seems a little sluggish to you, check out 9 Steps to Fix a Slow Wireless Connection.
It used to be that a freeloader was easy to spot – they raided your fridge and slept on your couch, with barely a word of gratitude ( Or maybe I am confusing them with teenagers?) These days they are a little more subtle than that, they are “borrowing” things that you can’t see such as your Wi-Fi.
Hopefully, we’ve helped you get secure Wi-Fi to keep them off of your Internet — the couch is something that you need to figure out yourself.
Photo Credit: Clive Darra