ONLINE intruders can easily piggyback off of your internet router and pose a significant security risk.
All they need to access your WiFi is your network credentials and they could be stealing your access scot-free.
According to recent research from broadband provider Konnect, more than 4million Brits have "hacked" a neighbour’s connection.
A total of 1.6million said they did so having held onto passwords after getting permission on a previous occasion.
But 2.7million hacked their way in by guessing passwords, with combinations so simple that one in three cracked the code within half an hour.
A fifth (18 per cent) of perpetrators spent over two hours trying various password combinations.
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If a tech-savvy criminal has access to you router, they can cause all sorts of trouble.
A hacker can redirect you to a website run by them, causing you to unwittingly hand over your bank account details or social media passwords.
If you suspect that someone is stealing your WiFi, there are a few ways that you can catch them out.
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Signs that someone is stealing your WiFi
Often, additional people piggybacking on your router can cause performance issues.
That means you get a sudden slowdown in your internet speeds, making streaming or downloading something take longer than usual.
In addition, you may find that you keep losing your connection as a result of frequent downtime.
This is another consequence of having lots of people logged in to your router at once, though it can be triggered by other factors, too.
If you have a capped data plan, you might also notice extra charges appearing on your monthly bill.
How to check for piggybackers
To scan your network for internet interlopers your best bet is probably a WiFi detective app.
There are plenty of apps available for both iOS and Android devices, but one reliable option is WiFi Guard.
Once downloaded, it will scan your router and throw up a list of all of the devices connect to it.
You can browse that list for devices you don't recognise.
Keep in mind that while many devices will have recognisable names – such as your smartphone – others will be listed as "unknown device".
That can make it tricky to figure out whether or not you have an intruder on your network.
Another way to check what's on your network is via your router's app or by logging into the admin control panel in a web browser.
These are a little more complicated to use but also allow you to scan all of the devices connected to your router.
You can find guides on how to log in and navigate those on your broadband provider's website.
How to block WiFi piggybackers
If you're certain that someone is pinching your WiFi, there's an easy way to boot them out.
Simply change the password for your router and they will be logged out of your network.
You can do this from the admin page on your router.
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Experts recommend that broadband users stick to strong passwords that are difficult to guess in order to deter hackers.
It's crucial that you use a password that you do not use on any other service to keep your router as secure as possible.
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