Is someone stealing your WiFi?
OFF late your WiFi has been running rather slowly. Perhaps someone is stealing your signals. If you are still using traditional securing tools like WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), then it would be rather easy for hackers to steal your WiFi. These days one can get hold of routers that automatically hack into WEP systems for as less as Rs. 3000. Apart from being plagued with a rather flow slow connectivity, you also face the danger of your WiFi network being used for anti-social or other nefarious activities. Any such evil act will get tracked back to you. So it is in your interests to ensure that your WiFi is always secured.
In order to find out the devices that are using your WiFi, you have log into your router. In majority off the cases, you can do this by typing http://192.168.0.1 or http://192.168.1.1. A window will open on the screen and you will be prompted to enter your username and password for logging in. The thing is that you must have the password with you, if you don’t have it, then you have to contact your service provider for a new password.
Once you are logged into your router, you have to navigate to the link that says ‘Attached Devices’ or ‘Device List.’ Here you will find the list of all the IP Addresses that are currently being used. The IP Addresses might not provide you the full picture by themselves. So you will have to cross check after finding out the IP address of each and every system that you own. Even the smartphone, if it is connected to your WiFi will have its own IP Address. So there could be a fairly large number of devices that you might have to take into account.
In case you find that there is an unauthorised device sitting on your network, you can pinpoint its physical location through a tool called MoocherHunter, which can be downloaded from this link: http://securitystartshere.org/page-training-oswa-assistant.htm. The system allows the user to move freely and walk towards the actual geographical location of the hacker. Of course, it is not advisable to take matters into your own hands, but if someone is getting you into trouble with authorities by using your WiFi for illegal purposes, you have to do something about it.
Another good way of tracking your WiFi network is NirSoft, which can be downloaded from http://www.nirsoft.net. This is a rather small solution that scans your wireless network and displays the list of all computers and devices that are currently connected to your network. The information that you receive in this case is quite comprehensive; for every computer or device that is connected to your network, you get to know the IP address, MAC address, the company that manufactured the network card, and optionally the computer name. The system works on Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003/2008, Windows Vista, and Windows 7.
However, the best option for you would be to change the security options of your router to either WPA (WiFi Protected Access) or WPA2, in case you have not done this already. WPA2 is more secure, but at times it might turn out to be incompatible with some of the devices on your network. If that is the case, then you can choose the option that allows for both. Also, you while selecting the password for your WiFi network, you have to ensure that it is strong. You can have a password that is more than 10 characters long, and includes upper case and lower case letters, numbers, special characters and punctuation.
Other strategies for safeguarding your WiFi network include things like hiding your SSID, which is the public name of your WiFi network. You can hide the name of your network, but the problem is that it will still be freely available to many hacking tools. You can also resort to IP filtering, but changing your IP will be still as simple as refreshing your connection. In case you have the information that a specific device is trying hack into your network, you can block their MAC address, this is clearly a rather secure strategy. But it is not foolproof as anyone who is trying to misuse your WiFi can easily spoof his or her MAC address.