Wireless has come a long way in the last ten years. When I was growing up there was no such thing, we had to run cables everyone along the floor, through the ceiling, over the bed and through the lounge room to share our very slow dial up connection.
As the demand grew for it, more and more routers starting coming with wireless built in them and even though they weren’t terribly fast either to begin with, as the internet speeds started getting faster, so did the wireless routers.
To begin with no one was protecting their wireless routers from unauthorised access. There weren’t a lot of them around to start off but the ones you could find were unprotected.
Soon people started using WEP security, Wired Equivalent Privacy which turned out to be anything but.
A few years later we started seeing people use WPA security (Wifi Protected Access) which was a lot more secure and not we are up to WPA2 which has seemed to be the standard for some years.
Nothing in the computing is 100% Secure
Nothing is 100% proof, but WPA2 is very pretty close. It would take some effort by some very powerful computers for a long time to break your WPA encryption and access your wireless network.
Someone would probably guess your password before the encryption would be broken, again another reason to have a good wireless password, or a good password for any application or website really.
Could someone be using your wireless connection?
Yes, it is not impossible and more likely they have guessed your password or someone has given it to them, rather then they actually cracked your wireless encryption.
It is not uncommon for internet connections to go slow and then fast again so internet speed is not a good indication of someone using your wireless internet networked connection.
However, if you are seeing large amounts of data being used in your usage of your internet connection (this can be checked for via most Internet Service Providers account logins) and you have not been using it, there might be something more sinister afoot.
A good way to check is by turning off all the computers, laptops or any any other device connected to your router overnight (not your router) and then checking on the morning if any data was used. If it was, there was probably someone using your internet connection.
If you see large amounts of data being used when you are connected to the internet it could also be something like malware or a virus on your computer doing something and downloading etc.
What can you do?
First of all you should log into your router and make sure you have your security for your router turned on and it is using WPA1 encryption.
If you do not have any security features to choose from you probably have a very old router. If thats the case there might be some options for you to download and update the firmware on your routers from your manufactures website to add the security features you need.
If you already have the security setup on your router maybe it is time to change your password. Passwords should be changed often but most people seem to have the same passwords for years and only change them when something happens and it is too late.
If you are looking for a good password and are having trouble coming up with one, click on this link to to help you make a random generated password no one should guess.
Another security feature a lot of routers have that most people don’t take advantage of is allowing only certain computers on the network based on MAC address as an extra layer on top of your existing WPA2 security.
The Wireless Security Experts
I have been fixing and learning about wireless security before people even started getting them with their routers 15 years ago.
Before Netgear, a major router manufacturer started making wireless routers, I was even part of a development program where they sent out test routers to see and work on making them viable to add to their existing router range.
If you have any wireless concerns please let me know and I would be very happy to come around and have a look for you.