When you’re surfing the Web at home or working online from the comfort of your living room, you’d likely think nothing of a slightly slower connection. This shows up in slower loading times, a lagging video, or a momentarily frozen website screen. After all, even if you paid for a certain speed, there’s no guarantee that your internet will be that fast 100% of the time, right?
While there are times when your internet connection will slow down because of congestion – in other words, when a higher number of users go online – you shouldn’t just write it off. If you notice that your connection is slower than usual, it happens more often, or it happens when you don’t expect it to, it’s possible that someone outside of your household is leeching off your internet. Here are a few tips and tricks you can use to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Use A Password
There are a few ways you can restrict internet access to only members of your household and any guests you may have now and then. The first, as you may have guessed, is to enable a connection password. That way, only people you give the password to will be able to use your home internet.
What if you have a neighbour or two over at some point and you gave them the password? Once they leave, you’ll need to change your password to a new one. If you need to reboot your router to apply the changed password, do so, then reconnect all the devices in your home. Don’t forget to have household members do the same with their devices after you change the password. If the same neighbour asks for the new password, don’t be afraid to refuse. They’re not the one paying for the internet plan – you are.
Ban Unfamiliar Devices
Another way to restrict access to your internet and keep outsiders from stealing network bandwidth is by blocking or banning MAC addresses. Log into your router’s interface and check the list of connected devices. If you see any unfamiliar devices, block or kick them from the connection, but not before making sure they don’t match the MAC addresses of any devices in your household, especially if some of them are smart devices.
Banning or blocking MAC addresses works well in a pinch, but remember that it isn’t foolproof. Some devices, such as iPhones, have a security feature that provides random MAC addresses every time the device connects to a network. However, becoming familiar with the MAC addresses of your household’s devices means that you’ll know if an outsider is using your internet the next time you check the list on your router’s interface.
Update Your Encryption
Older Wi-Fi encryption methods, such as WEP and WPA2-TKIP are insecure, especially the former as it’s susceptible to brute-force hacking methods. Check your router interface to see what kind of encryption it’s using, and then change it to a more secure method if possible. WPA2-Personal or WPA3-Personal are preferable. If your router can’t use any of the more updated and therefore secure methods, upgrade your router to one that can. Modern encryption standards not just keeps outsiders from stealing your internet, but keeps out potential hackers nearby, further securing your network.
There’s nothing wrong with occasionally sharing your internet with visitors and guests, especially if they need online access at the time. However, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your bandwidth, especially if those leeching off your network can afford their own internet plan. If you’ve done all of the above, though, and your internet is still slower than you’d like, it may mean it’s time to upgrade your plan, so go ahead and look for new NBN deals that may fit your needs better.