Whether you’re experiencing a slower than normal Internet connection or you simply feel that it’s unfair that your neighbor is using your connection for free, it doesn’t hurt to check if someone else is using your WiFi connection once in a while. Another concern that may also bother you is that someone has already gained access to your files or is using your connection to commit illegal activities. Whatever your reason may be, it is important to secure your connection to avoid such things from happening.
Though, some home network owners have already made some actions by applying security and restrictions, for those who have technical know-how, others may still be clueless on what to do or where to start with their setup. This serves as a guide for beginners, who are not sure if there’s somebody else taking advantage of their WiFi connection.
How to Find Out
First thing you need to do is to check the devices that are connecting to your wireless router. In order to do this, you need to log in to your router’s administrative page. On your computer, launch an Internet browser then type the router’s IP address, the most commonly used address 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1. However, if you are not sure of your router’s IP address, you can check it out here. Or you can go to the Command Prompt by going to Start > Run> type “cmd” and then hit Enter. On the Command Prompt, type “ipconfig/all” and then look for Default Gateway. The IP address that you see for Default Gateway is your router’s IP address. Now if you’re using a Mac, you can find it by going to Network under System Preferences. Look for the IP address next to Router if you’re on Ethernet (wired) connection. If you’re on wireless, you may need to click on Advanced, then go to the TCP/IP tab where you will see the Router IP address.
After getting the IP address of your router, type that info on your browser. After clicking on Go or pressing Enter, you’ll be prompted with a login screen. Normally, you don’t need to type anything on the Username field and “admin” is the password. But if this isn’t working for you, click here to view a list of default username and password of common wireless routers. You should now be face to face with your router’s setup or configuration page. From here, look for a tab that pertains to Wireless. For some routers, you may see a DHCP tab. Click on the Wireless or DHCP tab, and see which of them has a Device List, Attached Devices, or DHCP Clients Table button. This is where you’ll find all devices that are currently connecting wirelessly to your router.
To give you a clearer picture, below is a sample screenshot on how a DHCP Clients Table looks like:
By looking at it, you will see each of the device’s name, its IP address, and other details regarding its connection with the router. Now, to check the MAC address of your computer, simply go back to the Command Prompt window, then type again “ipconfig/all” and then press Enter. The information that you’re seeing for Physical Address is your computer’s MAC address. As for your other devices or gadgets, you may refer to their respective manuals/documentation if you’re not sure how to do so. After pinpointing which IP address or MAC address goes to which computer or device, you will know if there is an intruder in your wireless network.
Kicking Out the Intruders
The simplest yet most effective solution to avoid this from happening again is to set up a wireless security on your wireless network. Nowadays, it is best to go with the WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) type of security so that it will be difficult for unauthorized persons to decrypt your network password and penetrate your network. Another way to boost your security is to disable your router’s SSID broadcast to prevent your network name from being seen from nearby WiFi seekers. You can also perform with setting up wireless MAC filtering wherein you can restrict the devices that can connect to your network by specifying the MAC addresses of the computer(s) and devices that you will allow to connect. There’s no guarantee that doing all these precautionary measures will keep your network intruder-proof, but it will definitely give him a hard time to crack your connection, and who knows he may eventually give up trying.
These are just the basics that every home network owner should know. It’s up to you if prefer to skip these steps and just leave your network unsecured, but more than anything else, you should take the early steps of protecting your personal information, as well as your safety.