One large concern to people who pay for internet is whether neigbors or other people in the area jump on their network. a quick Google search shows that they ask how to stop someone from using my wifi connection.
Today we will talk about the steps you can take to maximize the security of your wireless network, making sure you can control as much as possible to keep your network safe and secure.
Steps on How To Protect WiFi From Neighbors Accessing:
- Validate Connected Devices for Suspicious Connections
- Change the Default Credentials for Router Sign In
- Update Router Firmware with Vendor Software
- Enable Enhanced Encryption on Your Network
- Disable WPS Configuration
- Disable SSID Broadcasting
- Filter Devices By MAC Address
- Disable Wireless Router Administration
I have heard from many friends and coworkers that they are sure that “my neighbor is using my wifi” because the speed is slow. While this can be a symptom it doesn’t expressly mean this is at fault by any means.
There can be plenty of reasons why this happens from the service provider having an issue, overall users online on your leg of the network, having multiple devices in your house connected and updating, and much more.
Why You Don’t Want Your Neighbors on Your Network
This may amaze you but typically when people jump onto someone else’s wireless they are intending to hide what they are doing from being tied back to them or to hide from family on the same network.
When either of those things are occurring you definitely don’t want to get in the middle of issues related to those problems. You pay for the network and only you should be the one who gets to choose who has or doesn’t have access.
The biggest concerns still to this day center around illegal downloads as the person downloading isn’t at fault in most cases the person who provided the access to the internet for the download gets held responsible.
Don’t let that be you…
How to Check Your Router for Suspicious Guests
What you will want to do is take a few minutes to log into your wireless router and look at each device connected. This will typically be by the device “name” of what it calls itself, not always helpful and the MAC Address.
The MAC Address is just the identification of the wireless card and this ID can help you to decide whether you want to remove the device from your network or keep them.
If you think a device name is questionable or you aren’t familiar with the device you can then choose what you want to do with the device.
Building Up Your In Home Network Security
When you want to tighten up your in home network you have many different things you really should setup when you first are installing your wireless router (here are our recommendations).
Each of these settings is another layer someone who wants to intrude will have to deal with and unless they truly want into your specific network it will be far easier to target someone else with weaker settings.
While this does secure you and your network remember if you have a previously set up network then you will need to go reconnect all your home devices on your new settings so that they will have network access.
Change Your Default Username and Password
No matter the router you will be able to change at a minimum the password associated with the primary account. I shouldn’t HAVE to tell you that leaving it default is the fastest way to have someone gain access to your home network and data.
Now preferably you have the option to also change the user account name tied to the administrator account to add another level of security. Typically this will be on the more expensive versions of hardware and brand names.
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It is preferable when you want to lock the system down to be able to change this name also as it means an additional data point they would have to run tests against to gain access.
Make Sure You Update Firmware
Whenever you buy your router you would more than likely assume that it is up to date and current as of the day you purchased it. This is actually far from the truth as the manufacturing date was sometimes as long as 6 or months prior.
With a firmware update you are typically helping your router to be better secure and as with Windows a more updated platform is more secure and will help keep your information safe.
For most firmware you will need to go to the manufacturers homepage and download the file, then you need to sign into your router and from the primary menu will be an option for updating the device.
You will then need to select the file and apply, there is typically a warning that says you may lose connectivity and NOT to power off the router while it is being processed. This is because should the power fail without the update fully applied it could be broken and unrecoverable.
Enable WPA2 Encryption On Your Wireless Router
WPA2, or Short for Wi-Fi Protected Access 2, encryption is the second generation of WPA which helped to start the security push over the older and, at the time, best, WEP. Unfortunately, WEP was proven to be exceptionally easy to beat from a hacker perspective.
Does this mean WPA2 will protect you overall, yes much better than the earlier security options which were available. This is why you should adopt your multi-faceted approach with all the steps we list here.
In 2017 a flaw in the WPA2 protection was found which was called KRACK, while this flaw had existed for quite some time it has since been patched out of all major network routers with firmware updates, as I have previously mentioned above!
Disable Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS)
WPS was originally designed to help you connect devices to your wireless router without having to remember the password, you would have a pin which allowed easy connectivity.
The other way it can be added on a router is through a push to connect button on the wireless router, in theory this should be pretty secure as you are right at the device pressing the button.
At least with the push-button style connection the only real vulnerability is that anyone that has physical access to the router. This is due to the fact that they could push the button and connect, even if they didn’t know your WiFi passphrase
Disable Broadcast of Your Network SSID
Why should you broadcast out the network information for your house out to the world at large? The ability to hide this network name from display can add on another layer of security at least against most of your locals.
This is typically right in the main wireless settings as a checkbox to broadcast or not, their is no issue connecting to a non-broadcast network other than you will have to input the name manually.
Since it will never show up in the list of active networks you will need to manually set this up on each device. This is the price you pay for the better levels of security. Of note though you typically connect a device only one time.
Filter Device Access via MAC Address
This layer is based on taking the device MAC addresses, whether wireless or wired and adding them into the exception list which essentially locks the access to the network down to only devices added onto this listing.
This one is a solid way to remove almost all people from accessing since it requires lots of overhead in the form of managing devices. This means each time a new device comes, whether purchase or someone visiting.
Disable Administration From Wireless
This is available on a select few wireless routers, this is essentially the ability to disable the ability to make administrative changes to your router via wireless.
Instead, you will have to connect a cable from your pc to the router and then connect into the router to be able to make any changes to settings. This can help remove almost all issues since the need to change settings could only happen via physical connection to your router.
Final Thoughts on How to Protect WiFi From Neighbors
When you want to protect your data, your family, and your financial information from abusers you should put in place all the best layers of security possible to ensure that you stay safe.
If you follow these steps listed above then you will have the most robust setup you can for your home wireless network while also giving you the chance to learn a little bit on the network side and why making these changes is a vital function.
If you are looking for a high performing and high quality router then I want you to check out my recommended gear page, this will have information on choosing a router, modem, and if for gaming what hardware will get you the best performance.