How to tell if someone is stealing your Wifi

And why you should care…

While there are countless benefits to living in a hyperconnected world, we all know that spending time online isn’t without risks. In fact, a whopping five and a half million cyber offences are now thought to take place each year.

With Black Friday upon us and Christmas on the way, many of us will be using our devices to buy bargains online - putting ourselves at potential risk of cyber crime. Here’s how to spot whether your Wifi has been stolen and how to keep your home network safe.

Watch out for slow Wifi

If your network isn’t secure, it’s vulnerable to data theft from neighbours and even passers-by.
A telltale sign might be very slow streaming of videos or music.

And if your data plan is capped and someone has been using your data for downloading, or other intensive online activities that use large quantities of data, you could find that your monthly bill includes substantial extra charges.

Remember, if anyone has been conducting illegal activities online – such as fraud, phishing or accessing stored information – and they’re using your network, then you’re responsible. Even if you’ve chosen to share a password with a trusted neighbour.

Wifi Thieves
Wireless router

Apps like Wireless Network Watcher, SoftPerfect WiFi Guard, Advanced IP Scanner and Angry IP Scanner can monitor your network for suspicious activity.

You can also check by going online and logging on to your provider’s router administration page – you can do this by opening your browser and typing in the IP address for your router (these vary with each browser, but can be found via a quick Google search).

You’ll be able to see a list of the devices that have been using your network. If you see any unfamiliar names, it’s time to contact your internet provider immediately.

Choosing the right encryption

Most of us are aware that we need to choose a password to protect our home Wifi network. Yet some networks are more secure than others.

WEP (Wireless Equivalent Privacy) is an early form of encryption that typically allows users to choose their own password. Most new routers come with WPA (Wifi Protected Access), which is a more complex system that’s far harder to hack into.

Even so, 19% of all Wifi users worldwide are still using WEP encryption for their home network security and 89% of all public Wifi hotspots are unsecured.

So, you need to be aware of whether your information is at risk when you’re using Wifi while out and about. You can check your encryption by going to the Network Settings menu on your device; it should advise you of the security level of all listed networks.

Protect your wifi
Hacking awareness

Hacking awareness

If your Wifi is stolen or compromised, you’re at greater risk of being hacked. Sensitive information stored by some of the biggest organisations in the world is frequently compromised by hackers. So how can you protect yourself?

It’s possible to keep your information safe, as long as you’re vigilant. Fake pop-ups and anti-virus messages look increasingly sophisticated and plausible, so one of the best ways to stay safe is to be vigilant about what you click on.

’It could have ruined my career’

”I first suspected that someone was using my Wifi when I was charged extra for going above my monthly data cap, during a time when I’d been out of the country and couldn’t have been using my connection,” explains 29 year-old teacher Catherine Blanchard.

”When I contacted my provider and asked them to look into it for me, they discovered illegal activity via my connection. Not only could this have got me in trouble with the police, but it was also costing me money as I was going over my data cap.

”Obviously the extra charges were annoying – although this was eventually resolved by my internet provider – but if I’d been suspected of committing a crime it could’ve ruined my career. It’s shown me just how vigilant you have to be with your internet connection.”

Protect yourself

While these tips can help make sure that no one is stealing your data or Wifi, we can help you feel secure in the knowledge that you have a broadband deal that isn’t stealing pounds from your wallet! Just tell us your postcode and we’ll search all the available providers to help you find a package that best suits your needs.  

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