By Praveen Kannan and Anna Strokolyst The Hotspot Shield team believes the internet should be open and secure …
You pay good money for your home internet connection, right? So how would you feel if someone was stealing it? Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to find out if someone is stealing your internet, and there are things that you can do to stop it.
Checking your internet connection for theft
You may be finding that your home Wi-Fi network is sluggish, and that you can no longer stream your favorite shows properly. Something seems to be hogging your bandwidth, but you can’t for the life of you figure out what it is. Perhaps your neighbor is stealing your internet?
The first thing you should do is to take a look at your network. Login to your router and look to see what devices it’s connected to. You should have already set up a username/password for your router. If you type 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.2.1 in your browser while on your network, this may provide access. If you can’t do that, you can also get a free program called Wireless Network Watcher. This shows what devices are connected.
Do they all belong to you? If you see a gadget that’s not yours, someone is stealing your internet.
Securing your internet connection
If you discover that someone is stealing your internet, there are ways to stop it. Though you can’t tell who is doing the stealing, you know it’s someone fairly close in distance, like a neighbor.
One of the best ways to put a halt to the theft is to encrypt your Wi-Fi network. This is generally done simply by accessing your router and choosing an encryption setting such as WPA and setting up a password. Pretty simple stuff.
If you don’t have a password on your internet (most already do), encrypt your network now. Criminals love open Wi-Fi networks as they’re generally easy to hack. If, on the other hand, your network already has encryption, you need to change your password. Someone must have figured it out and is now able to access your internet.
If changing your password doesn’t stop the intrusion, they might have set up a backdoor. So, reset your router to the factory settings, and then set it up like new. Just keep in mind that you will have to change all of the saved Wi-Fi passwords that you have on your devices.
Once you’ve confirmed that the person stealing your internet can no longer connect, make sure you keep a close eye on your network going forward.
Speeding up slow internet connections
If you went through the tests and found that no one is stealing your internet, yet it still seems like your Wi-Fi is slow, the first thing you should do is to test your internet speed. It should match what you pay for. Make sure that you check the speed while connected to Wi-Fi and when wired directly into the router. If you notice that your speed with Wi-Fi is a lot slower than your wired speed, you might need to get a router upgrade. It could be getting overloaded with all your devices. Contact your ISP for help; you might be eligible for a new router/modem.
Protect yourself on free Wi-Fi
Whenever you are at a coffee shop, traveling, in a hotel, or at an airport, you may be connecting to open and unsecured Wi-Fi networks. While this is a great way to save money on your data plan, it’s also a great way to get hacked.
Criminals can spy on your every move if your device is connected unencrypted to free Wi-Fi. This is where a VPN such as Hotspot Shield comes in. Once installed on your laptop or mobile device, it allows you to still save money on your data plan but your information will be encrypted and hidden from spies.