How Can You Protect Your Wi-Fi From Neighbors?

There are a few things you could do to ensure your neighbors don't connect to your wireless network...

Wi-Fi router

You know how it goes… Your Internet suddenly starts working at a snail’s pace, video is buffering all the time and that big download looks like a neverending story. There are a few things that could cause this slow down: your operating system may be updating, some app may be speaking to a remote server (a lot), or someone else is connecting to your (wireless) network.

It is this last part that will be the focus of today’s article so keep reading to learn how to mitigate this problem.

Why you shouldn’t want anyone to connect to your Wi-Fi?

The main problem is related to the speed of your connection, which will undoubtedly go south once multiple parties connect to the same Wi-Fi hotspot.

But speed is not the only reason why you shouldn’t want other parties to connect to your network.

You see, your ISP thinks it is you who is connecting to the Internet from that router and it is your responsibility to do only legit stuff online. So if your neighbor starts downloading movies with BitTorrent without a VPN, there’s a chance that someone will knock on your door asking for compensation for the movies downloaded. We’re not talking hypothetically here as such lawsuits have already happened in the past.

Worse yet, if your neighbor is a hacker and commits a crime using your Internet connection – it will be you who will be responsible for any damage.

The chance of someone illegally connecting to your Wi-Fi network is increased in densely populated areas where different tenants of the same building may try to find free Wi-Fi in their vicinity.

How can you tell that someone is piggybacking on your Wi-Fi?

You should be able to detect if someone is downloading gigabytes of data on a regular basis — your connection will definitely slow down — but you should also be aware that most Internet activities don’t require a lot of bandwidth. For instance, most hacking attacks don’t require fast Internet connections but can be damaging nevertheless.

Therefore, your best bet is to manually check for all connected devices by logging into your router. While there, you should also check for the list of devices that were connected in the past — as it can give you a hint whether someone had misused your connection before.

Another option to consider are network monitoring apps as they provide a user-friendly view of the network activity and can reveal if you have an uninvited guest on the network.

How can you protect your Wi-Fi network?

There are several things you could do to ensure that no one is connecting to your network without your permission. You could:

Change your password
It is a good practice to every now and then change the password of your router to prevent anyone you don’t know from connecting to your Wi-Fi network. Sure, it can be a pain but if you’re serious about security – you will do it. People who have suffered consequences from keeping their routers open will tell you to do it. And they should know a thing or two about that. Also, make sure to use an impossible to guess password by using a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers and special characters.

Keep your router up to date
Just like your apps and operating system, your router needs a software refresh from time to time. Make sure to check out for updates and proceed to update the router’s firmware. You could schedule this check for every 3 or 6 months, just to be sure.

Hide your SSID
Since this is your home network and you have already set all devices in the house to connect to it, there is no need to broadcast its name to the whole world. Instead, you can hide the network’s SSID (its name) so that it doesn’t appear when someone is scanning for available Wi-Fi networks.

Get a router with WPA3 support
As of this writing, the WPA3 is the most secure wireless security protocol — even though you could “get away” with a WPA2-compatible router just as well. However, if you’re looking to get a new router, there is no need to settle with last year’s product when most new routers come with WPA3 support out of the box. Also read: WiFi Security Types 101

Get a VPN

We had to add this here, as you can install a VPN across multiple devices — including your router. Once it’s set up to work through your router, all devices connecting to the Internet will benefit from a more secure connection — while at the same time protecting your privacy online.

It is our belief that everyone should be using a VPN these days and have it running across their devices. And yes, this includes your router — which could also help you protect your smart TV or gaming console connection.

The best VPNs won’t slow you down and, in some cases, could even provide for an even faster connection. That’s why we’ve highlighted such (best) VPNs on a dedicated page. Check it out and get yourself a rock-solid VPN today! You can always thank us later. 😉