How To Tell If Someone Is Using Your Wi-Fi

Dec 1, 2021
By Staff writer

How do you know if someone outside of your home or office is using your Wi-Fi? These piggybackers can use your internet connection for months, or maybe even years without you knowing. However, you might find yourself complaining of slow internet along the way.

Before you even think it's your service provider, check first if you only have authorized users of your Broadband plan.

If you suddenly notice a change in your internet speed and websites are loading slower than usual, read on to see if someone may be using your internet without your permission.

It's important to keep your Wi-Fi network secure, especially if you're paying for an internet connection with a data cap! But even more important, unsecured Wi-Fi can make you more vulnerable to hackers who can easily access your personal details.

Here are some effective ways to check if you have Wi-Fi freeloaders:

Check your router.

You can quickly check if someone is using your Wi-Fi by looking at your router. This is even better if you know all the devices you own that are connected to your internet.

Turn off or unplug all of these devices, then look at your router after. If you see a flashing green light even after unplugging and turning off your devices, it means someone else is using your Wi-Fi!

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Use an app

There are several apps you can download to check if someone is thieving your internet connection. These apps provide automatic searchers for unusual devices connected to your network.

Who's On My Wi-Fi Available on Windows and Mac
Wi-Fi Thief Detector Available on Google Play
Fing Available on Google Play and Apple
Wi-Fi Guard Available on Google Play and Windows
NetWorx Available on Windows

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Look into your router's IP address.

This method is trickier, but you can also check unauthorized devices on your Wi-Fi by looking into the router's IP Address and checking the list of devices connected to your internet.

Just follow these steps:

For Windows users:

1. On your keyboard, press the Windows key on, then type in "cmd" and open Command Prompt.

2. Find "Default Gateway." Next to it are the numbers that will be your router's IP address.

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For Mac users:

1. Go to your System Preferences, then click network.

2. Choose the Wi-Fi you're connected to, then click on Advance on the bottom right corner.

3. Click on the TCP/IP tab to find your IP Address next to "Router."

Now that you have your IP address head to your internet browser and type your IP address into the search bar. A prompt will appear asking you to log into your router. You can find the login details (username and password) at the back of your router device and is usually printed on a sticker.

To find out if there are any devices connected to your internet, click on My Network. Note that the name may vary depending on the brand of your router (other possible names: Clients, Device Manager, Connected Devices).

After that, a list of IP/MAC addresses and device names will show. Just check the names on the list and see if you recognize them. If there are names on the list that you don't recognize, it's best to update and secure your Wi-Fi.

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Another good, extra step MAC users can consider:

Block someone from connecting to your device. Just head to your router admin page and look for an option that says Device Filtering (or similar). This setting lets admins add a number of MAC numbers to a blocked devices list that prevents them from accessing your network.

Is your Wi-Fi secured enough? Here's a checklist: 

You have a strong Wi-Fi password.

If your password is just a combination of your name, birthday, address, or phone number, you might want to update it to something harder to guess. Choose a password with a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. And don't forget to list it on your notes, so you don't end up forgetting it yourself!

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You've matched up your devices and the list on your IP address

It's a good practice to check all the devices on your IP address match the ones you have at home. You can do this once or twice a year. Be sure to record them on a spreadsheet for easy tracking.

The only people who know your Wi-Fi password and login information are you and the other people in your household.

If you live alone, be sure that you only share your login info with the people you trust. Another thing you can do is log in the password on their phone yourself.

Other simple ways to keep your internet secured:

  • Update your router name.
  • Use strong wireless network encryption. WPA2 is the most commonly used today, but you might want to consider getting one that features WPA3.

Aside from a secured connection, make sure you're getting your money's worth with your internet! Find the best plans for you in just a few simple steps.

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