How to know when someone is stealing your wifi!

23/07/2024 20mins
Ramesh Ch


With the advent of internet airspace, connectivity has soared too. Once upon a time, internet connection was a cumbersome process that required one to use a dial-up connection and attempt 3-4 times till a connection was made and enjoy 64kbps internet speed. But as the times have changed, wifi routers exist in subways and airports and even houses and internet speeds of up to 50GBps can be enjoyed. Note that the Apollo 13 rocket was sent with a slower net speed.


But as technology advances, so do the techniques. And one technique that most private home users complain about is PIGGYBACKING or in other words, Wifi-thieves. Since the user circumference of a private wifi channel is quite large, neighbouring users find methods to hack wifi passwords using malware and spyware, to piggyback and enjoy free internet access. Apart from enjoying the ill gained privilege, they ultimately slow down the accessibility for the real user due to traffic congestion on the router. This could be annoying as well as a criminal breach. So basically what one must do is either find out and block these unauthorized users or just move to a better locality with better neighbours. But since the economy prevents us from moving so often, we’ll stick to the former.

How to find out and block these Wi-fi thieves:

1) To find out who is stealing your wifi, the most crude way of finding out is by checking the device console and router


On the router, there is a wireless light that shows when the router is engaged by a wireless device. What you can do is disconnect all your devices which are paired with the wifi and check if the light is still blinking. If it still blinks despite disconnecting all your devices, then someone is indeed piggybacking your wifi. But this method is not a clear cut solution as the light may blink if it connects to your gaming console and TV which you may not know is paired. But it’s a start.

2) The more clear cut solution to finding out if your wifi is being stolen is to check your router device list


Now most of you must be screaming ‘What the hell is that?’ in your head. Don’t worry, I was too. But the process is simple.

  • First you log onto your console by going to its IP address. You can find it on WINDOWS using the command prompt option and typing in ‘ipconfig’ and then find the ‘Default Gateway’ IP address.
  • Once you find the IP address. Type that address into a browser window. You will automatically be connected to a page to log into your console.
  • Once you are logged in by providing the admin details and passwords, look for a section listed as ‘Connected devices’.
  • Check and compare it to your gear to see if any outsiders are logged on. You have officially caught your Wifi thief!

What to do after you find out that someone is stealing your wifi?

Simple! Call the cops and have them arrested. Too harsh? Here’s a more effective and simpler way.

  • Change all your passwords and login details regularly.

    Monotony is main agenda behind hackers for gaining free access to wifi. So always change your passwords and make sure they are long and alpha-numeric and not easy to guess. Keep birthdays and names out of passwords. They are easier to crack if the hacker is your neighbor and knows you.

  • Another way to keep a tab on unauthorized wifi users is to change your wifi setting to ‘WPA2-AES’

    This will block users from getting access to your network without providing a password each time. It’s always better to be secure and safe. Never take anything for granted.

  • Another effective way is to use a Network Monitoring Software.

    These softwares are available for free online and upgraded versions are available to buy. It’s always easier when you get to know your network panel admin where you can change your setting and view logs. As a matter of fact, a famous network monitoring software called MOOCHERHUNTER is used widely across Asia to catch wifi moochers as it is a punishable offence. In some countries, it is a serious offence as it is considered akin to stealing and carries a small jail sentence.

  • The most effective way is prevention!

    So to prevent anyone from taking what is yours, security is the only way out. Hence, what you can do is increase the security around your wifi network. Guard and secure your networks with WPA’s instead of open WES networks. Also, the network can be encrypted. Most people encrypt their wifi’s as encryption means algorithmic changing of password structures, making it harder to crack. If your network is not encrypted, you are open and susceptible to hackers who can piggyback off your wifi and thereby reducing your net speed and increasing you frustration.

Most of you are very generous people and believe in sharing of wifi with friends and family. But the repeated opening and closing of your network makes it prone to hackers and crackers. Hence, if required, set up and additional WES panel through your router for ‘Guests’ and close it when not required or set a timer where it automatically disconnects all external devices within the stipulated amount of time. These servers are programmed to cut off external devices that are not permitted by the router and also after the internal timer goes off, the IP address is changed and the user no longer has access to the network. All in all, beefing up security is the only reasonable way to combat wifi theft.

And these are some of the ways of detecting whether someone is mooching off your wifi. And the best way to protect yourself is to prevent them access to your network. But if you are of the kind, you are always welcome to go up to the neighbours house and have a physical confrontation about it. Don’t let me give you any more ideas, but that seems like a reasonable bet.


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