How Would You Know If Your Wi-Fi Was Being Hacked?

By Elizabeth Smith

Wireless Internet makes it easy to get online anywhere in your home, but the convenience carries with it security trade-offs. According to the San Diego Police Department, successful Wi-Fi hackers can get access to information you transmit online, including credit card numbers and banking passwords, particularly via "unsecure laptops and smartphones." By looking out for signs of hacking and taking steps to increase network security, you can keep your personal details safe and maintain a stable Internet connection.

Speed

Sudden changes in speed can indicate that someone is using your Wi-Fi signal to download or upload large files, particularly if your connection has a history of being fast and stable. Issues associated with a slow or unstable Internet include pages loading slowly or timing out, problems with streaming videos or music, or extended download times.

Loss of Signal

When someone else is using your network, it causes a drop in your available signal strength, which compromises your ability to get online. Before you assume a hacker is responsible, however, you must rule out common wireless network problems by power-cycling the router, resetting the modem and checking that your computer's Wi-Fi is turned on.

Network Log

The network log or DHCP client table will show the computers and devices connected to your network. If the total number of listings exceeds the number of enabled devices in your household -- including mobile phones -- you can be fairly certain someone is stealing your Wi-Fi. You can find the network log by entering your router's IP address into the URL bar on a web browser, and then entering your username and password when prompted.

Password Security

Most people use their secured wireless network to transfer personal information from emails to financial details. If someone has hacked into your network, he has access to a great deal of personal information. Signs that your accounts or personal data is compromised include unauthorized emails, loss of money in your bank accounts or unexplained transactions. In any of these situations, you must change your website passwords immediately; when your financial information is hacked, you also should contact the bank or merchant(s) involved to report the problem. You can keep your online information safe by choosing complex passwords, changing them regularly and using secure sessions for sites requiring personal data.

Preventing and Stopping Hackers

Stopping and preventing Wi-Fi hackers is as simple as boosting the security of your network. From your router administration screen, which you can access by entering the router's IP address into a web browser, you can make changes that increase network protection. The two critical steps are switching from a WEP password to the more secure WPA or WPA2 option and changing your password to a new, complex version.