How to Keep Strangers Off Your WiFi Network
Strangers on your WiFi network are not always cyber hackers. Sometimes the unwanted guests on your network are your neighbors because they are still connected from the last time that they visited your home. Innocently connected or actively freeloading, when unwanted guests connect to you and your WiFi, your network becomes at risk for a few things:
- Strangers can intrude on your personal data
- Your WiFi speeds slow down
- Internet service providers (ISP) can charge extra fines and restrictions due to over usage
- Unwanted guests can perform illegal activity on your network which is attached to your name
Whether you love your neighbors or not, kick them off of your WiFi when they’re outside of the walls of your home. Even if it is a seemingly innocent situation, it can get you into trouble in more than one way.
What do you do about these potential big problems? Fortunately, there are ways to prevent them from happening to you. Here are some things that you can do to hide your WiFi network from unwanted guests:
First, identify the devices on your network.
You can see which devices are connected to your WiFi network by accessing your router settings. Or, if you use a WiFi network management platform, it will do the work of keeping track of connected devices for you.
But, if you are doing it manually, then you will look through the names of connected devices. If you see a name that is unfamiliar, then that is an unwanted guest connecting to your network. If this is the case, change your login and password to something stronger and more unique. Then re-connect all of your devices. The unwanted guest should be booted off since they won’t know the new credentials.
It’s a good practice to check your network regularly. Again, a network management platform will do this for you.
Next, change your router settings to hide your network.
At this point you have identified if there are any unwanted guests on your network. And you have updated your login and password. Now, it is time to adjust your router settings to hide your WiFi network so outsiders cannot connect to it (or connect again). Here’s how to do it.
1. Make sure your password is strong
Again, we cannot stress enough that you really need to make sure that your login and password credentials are near impossible to guess. A password generator can be your friend here.
2. Check that your WiFi is encrypted.
Your encryption level should begin with “WPA2” which is the most secure level of encryption for modern routers. Avoid “WEP” and “WPA” without the “2” or “3” because these are not up to date. If these are your only options, then you need to upgrade your router for security measures (and performance).
It’s not a bad idea to also enable router’s firewall and to disable any remote access options.
3. Hiding your WiFi network
Your network will only be hidden for outsiders, not for you. Here’s how it works:
Your router broadcasts its Service Set Identifier (SSID), or visible name of your wireless network, automatically. This function is usually enabled by default because doing so makes it easy for your devices (and outsiders’ devices) to find the network and connect to it. So, to hide your network you want to turn this function off.
Poof! Gone. Well, sort of. Really what you are doing is hiding the name. Your network is still there. While you shouldn’t have to worry about your neighbors freeloading off of your WiFi network anymore, you still need to keep up on its performance and security.