How to Know if Someone is Using your WiFi
If you suspect a neighbor is stealing your Wi-Fi, these two apps can help you identify devices using your connection and help you boot them off.
Is your internet moving a little slower than usual? Are you seeing hints of devices you don’t recognize in Windows Explorer, or when you cast media to your TV? If you suspect a neighbor is stealing your Wi-Fi, here’s how to check (and boot them off).
Your wireless router should have indicator lights that show internet connectivity, hardwired network connections, and also any wireless activity. One way you can see if anyone’s using your network is to shut down all wireless devices and go see if that wireless light is still blinking.
So, how exactly would you tell that a third party was using your WiFi? This article will take you through some simple effective ways to help you keep your network secure from unwanted guests.
If you are using windows, you can download the Wireless Network Watcher which lists all the devices connected to your network. Here, you can identify which ones belong to you and disconnect others. Once you launch the Wireless Network Watcher, scanning will begin and show a notification in the bottom left corner. Here, you can look through the various “Device Name” and “Network Adapter Company” columns to identify your devices.
Wireless Network Watcher
To use Wireless Network Watcher, just launch the program, and it will immediately begin scanning your network. This will take a minute or two—you’ll know it’s working if the bottom-left corner reads “Scanning…” Once it’s done, that message will disappear, and you’ll be presented with a full list of connected devices.
The resulting list may look a little cryptic, especially if you aren’t super tech-savvy, but don’t worry. You can ignore the IP address and MAC address listings for now. If you’re using Wireless Network Watcher, just focus on the “Device Name” and “Network Adapter Company” columns.
For example, I see an item named “Dulce” in Wireless Network Watcher, which is the name of my wife’s MacBook. I see another with no name, but with “Philips Lighting BV” as the network adapter manufacturer, which means it’s probably the hub for my Philips Hue lights. You can double-click on a device to add “User Text” that helps you identify each device, which will help you narrow down all the items in this list.
If you find any devices that you are unable to identify on your WiFi, you can simply resolve the issue by changing the password. Choose the WPA2 password type as it is more secure and more difficult to crack than WEP.
For Mac users, the programs may be quite pricey. Options such as LanScan can cost up to $6 for full functionality. Alternatively, you can try using Fing on your iPhone if you have one.