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How to protect your Wi-Fi from neighbors

If websites start loading slower than before or you’re experiencing constant video buffering, there’s a chance that you have an unwanted guest on your network. Hijacking somebody’s Wi-Fi can not only ruin your internet speed but also put your security at risk. Where should you start if you want to investigate your network?

Karolis Bareckas

Karolis Bareckas

How to protect your Wi-Fi from neighbors

Why don't you want anyone stealing your Wi-Fi?

When somebody is stealing your Wi-Fi, speed issues are not your biggest concern. That person might be illegally downloading content or performing malicious activities that can get you in trouble. Your router is directly linked with your identity, so everything that happens on your network is your responsibility.

Furthermore, if your neighbor connects to your Wi-Fi and then accidentally downloads malware, it can spread to the network and infect all devices connected to it. This way, you can end up with a virus or Trojan and then become a victim of data theft, a ransomware attack, or a man-in-the-middle attack.

Depending on the place you live, the chances of somebody piggybacking on your network may vary. If you live in a suburban house, it’s less likely your neighbors will be stealing your Wi-Fi. However, if you live in a city center or next to a public square with a lot of people around, the odds are much greater.

How to know if your neighbor is piggybacking on your Wi-Fi

Even if you’re not experiencing issues with your Wi-Fi, it’s a good idea to check the devices connected to it from time to time. Not all internet activities require a lot of bandwidth. If a person is not downloading terabytes of data every day, it can be hard to notice anything out of the ordinary.

You can check all the connected devices by logging in to your router. However, it’s also important to go through the list of devices that were connected in the past. This way, you can see if your Wi-Fi is vulnerable and somebody occasionally uses it without your consent.

Network monitoring apps are also an option to consider. They’re user friendly and can be used on both mobile and desktop. Finding a network security key on your router/modem is not hard and doesn’t require much tech savviness, so you should take precautions.

Check out our video on this topic below.

How to protect your Wi-Fi

Change your password

How can you stop neighbors from using your wireless internet? If you notice a device connected to your network that you don’t recognize, change your password immediately. This way, that device will be disconnected from the network and will be asked to enter the new password.

Make sure to use uppercase and lowercase letters along with special characters and numbers to create a strong password. It’s also important to change your password from time to time. You can use a password manager to help you with this task.

At the same time, change your router’s username and password. Most of the time, network devices arrive with a default password that is easy to guess.

Update your router’s firmware

It’s important to update your router’s firmware to keep its security up to date. Otherwise, wrongdoers can exploit a bug that was patched months ago and put you at risk.

Hide your SSID

You can hide your Wi-Fi name so it won't be visible among available networks. While somebody with more technical knowledge can monitor even hidden networks, hiding your SSID will push back some wrongdoers.

Choose a router that supports WPA3

WPA2 is still the most used wireless security protocol, but WPA3 provides you with better security than its predecessor. Not all routers support WPA3, but you should look for this next-generation protocol when you pick a new device. You can also check our router security guide to get more ideas on how to protect it.

Use a VPN

A VPN encrypts your traffic and hides your IP address, enhancing your online security and privacy. We recommend using a VPN at home by setting up NordVPN on your router. This way, all devices connected to your network will be protected, and when you apply the tips mentioned above, you will keep your network secure. You can also get the NordVPN app for your smartphone, laptop, or tablet to protect them whenever you’re on the go.

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Karolis Bareckas
Karolis Bareckas Karolis Bareckas
Karolis is a tech geek who writes about cybersecurity, online privacy, and the latest gadgets. When not rattling his keyboard, he’s always eager to try a new burrito recipe or explore a new camping spot.