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Neighbors can easily hack into your WiFi router and use it without your knowledge or permission. This article explains how to stop WiFi Theft.
Someone has been stealing my WiFi for years, and I didn’t even realize it. I would often experience frustratingly slow WiFi, especially during the evenings. I ran Speedtest and chalked it up to my ISP being overwhelmed. After all, most ISPs are slower during peak usage hours. On weekdays, when people get home from work and watch Netflix and other streaming services, the demand strains most network infrastructures. For me, this simply wasn’t the case.
One symptom of this WiFi theft was that AirPlay music streaming would often drop out. This happened even when I played downloaded music. It simply didn’t make sense. AirPlay streams directly through my WiFi router, and has nothing to do with the Internet. It works across the local area network. But I still didn’t want to believe it was WiFi theft. I considered it a few times, however, I didn’t think anyone would sink so low.
After years of fiddling and frustration, I decided to take WiFi theft seriously. I examined my network and found that someone was stealing my WiFi. After changing the password on my WiFi router, I no longer have AirPlay dropouts. My Internet access is always fast, even during peak hours. I no longer experience frustrating pauses while watching Netflix. The video quality is always HD with a fast frame rate. I am experiencing mixed emotions. On the one hand, I’m delighted that I fixed the problem. Unfortunately, it also means that one of my neighbors is a thief.
WiFi Theft is Easy
After accepting the possibility that my WiFi could be stolen, I decided to first look at how this is accomplished. After all, our routers have security features that are designed to prevent this. Unfortunately, WPA2 security is a joke. I am amazed at how easy it is for people to hack WiFi routers and steal passwords. WiFi password encryption can be cracked in a matter of hours for a simple password. A more complex password may take days. If you have a simple WiFi password for the sake of convenience, you’re really just making it easy for anyone to steal your WiFi.
A WiFi thief doesn’t need to be a sophisticated hacker. Myriad websites provide steps to crack WiFi passwords. I won’t link to them or describe the steps. Just be assured that just about anyone can steal your WiFi if you have a weak password.
WiFi Theft is Illegal
Despite the rationalizations of the perpetrators, WiFi theft is illegal. In fact, even using someone’s open WiFi network can be illegal. People have been prosecuted for this, and they didn’t even crack a password.
Thieves who use hacking tools to crack WiFi passwords are doing something far more illegal. They are penetrating secure networks. Beyond stealing WiFi, they could potentially access data on unsecured devices in the network. The statutes vary from state to state, however, it is illegal. Just don’t expect the authorities to get all CSI over it. In fact, I wouldn’t even bother reporting or confronting the thief.
How to Detect WiFi Theft
If you suspect WiFi theft, it’s best to confirm your suspicion before you take any further action. After all, it’s a real chore to enter long, random passwords on all of your devices. Entering a WiFi password on Apple TV or wireless printer is a painful experience.
There are a lot of ways to detect WiFi theft. The easiest way is to download an app, such as WiFi Police. This app is available free in the App Store, however, you can only use it a few times before you have to pay. You only really need to use it a few times to find the culprit. next page →