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Is a neighbor freeloading on my wireless network?

How can I tell if someone is using my wireless network.  My home wireless network utilizes a  password but am told that is a simple obstacle to bypass.

I use Windows Explorer 7, OS is Windows XP, and have a Westel 327W.  I have one pc hard wired to the modem/router and another pc (with Vista) connected wireless.

My real problem is that my DSL download speeds drop down as low as the 100-200 Kbps range and then when I restart the pcs and modem it usually jumps back up to 1.5 to 1.7 Mbps range.  Some one told me that I may have an interloper(s) on my network even with  pasword protection and that is what might be slowing down my connection.

Given the range of a modem, I only have a couple of neighbors who could possibly get in.

Re: Is a neighbor freeloading on my wireless network?
Specialist - Level 1

it is very very UNLIKELY that anyone is using your wireless network

Here is a link to the DSL modem/routers userguides

You can learn how to access yours, and view/change your wireless settings

best o luck

Re: Is a neighbor freeloading on my wireless network?
Enthusiast - Level 3

Im a rank novice at these things, but I've been suggested to use the WEP key security OR MAC address authentication.  I used MAC, but recently went to WEP.  I can definitely say that visitors cannot get onto my network unless I let them.  It is my intention at some point to add a public access point (neighbors are too far to connect) for visitors that keeps them off my LAN.

Re: Is a neighbor freeloading on my wireless network?

Hi Folks,

Yes using Wireless MAC Authentication is the best way of making certain no one is using your WiFi without your permission.

Please consult your wireless router's manual for this topic.

You will need to know the MAC ID (Physical Address) of each device you are going to want to use on your WiFi network.

To find them do this:

Press that Start Button, Enter CMD in the search box (press return afterwards), type ipconfig /all.  It might take a few moments but a simple table will appear:

Microsoft Windows [Version 6.0.6002]

Copyright (c) 2006 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

C:\Users\X>ipconfig /all

Windows IP Configuration

Host Name . . . . . . . . . . . . : XXXX

Primary Dns Suffix . . . . . . . :

Node Type . . . . . . . . . . . . : Hybrid

IP Routing Enabled. . . . . . . . : No

WINS Proxy Enabled. . . . . . . . : No

Ethernet adapter Local Area Connection:

Connection-specific DNS Suffix . :

Description . . . . . . . . . . . : NVIDIA nForce 10/100 Mbps Ethernet

Physical Address. . . . . . . . . : 00-19-21-F9-6B-36

DHCP Enabled. . . . . . . . . . . : Yes

Autoconfiguration Enabled . . . . : Yes

IPv4 Address. . . . . . . . . . . :

Subnet Mask . . . . . . . . . . . :

Lease Obtained. . . . . . . . . . : Sunday, March 28, 2010 7:33:45 AM

Lease Expires . . . . . . . . . . : Tuesday, March 30, 2010 7:33:44 AM

Default Gateway . . . . . . . . . :

DHCP Server . . . . . . . . . . . :

DNS Servers . . . . . . . . . . . :

NetBIOS over Tcpip. . . . . . . . : Enabled

Ethernet adapter Bluetooth Network Connection 2:

Media State . . . . . . . . . . . : Media disconnected

Connection-specific DNS Suffix . :

Description . . . . . . . . . . . : Bluetooth Device (Personal Area Network) #2

Physical Address. . . . . . . . . : 00-16-38-C4-12-50

DHCP Enabled. . . . . . . . . . . : Yes

Autoconfiguration Enabled . . . . : Yes


Some devices will have more than one MAC ID, you need to figure out which ID is for the wireless network adapter...this shouldn't be too hard to do.  Look at the text in red above....there should be a description for each device that give you clue as to which network adapter is the WiFi adapter.  (You may need to consult your computer's manual).

Once you have the Physical Address of all the devices you want to authorize on your network, you can enable them in the router.  This method is quite strict.  If you want to add users (like someone visiting who wants to use WiFi), you will have to enable each new device on your router. 

Re: Is a neighbor freeloading on my wireless network?
Enthusiast - Level 2
Neither WEP nor MAC address filtering is security. You need WPA2 enabled if you want to secure a wireless network. WEP and MAC address filtering do nothing. That said, I agree that this probably isn't what's going on. I'd think it more likely there's just something wrong with the router you're using. Either way, your router may have info about devices currently connected to it, as someone mentioned you might need to consult the manual to see where that feature is.
Re: Is a neighbor freeloading on my wireless network?
Enthusiast - Level 2
To login to your router is easy go to then it will ask you to login username is admin , password can be admin or password or password1. Then the page will say verizon the page is red and black, then go to a tab called My Network then It will show the devices on it. If you have a WEP key it's easy to get in, use WPA or WPA2 to do that go to Wireless Setup> advanced setup> WPA set a password, you can set the password with 8 digits letters and numbers.
Re: Is a neighbor freeloading on my wireless network?
Contributor - Level 2

MAC address filtering in and of itself is no an answer but setting the router to only accept those computers and other wireless devices whose MAC address is listed can provide anothe hurdle for someone to overcome.  Additionally set the SSID broadcast to NO.  Makes it a little harder to tap into a netrwork which is not easily visible.

Re: Is a neighbor freeloading on my wireless network?

A guest used a cell phone to read my wireless password, so WEP is clearly not sufficient to protect my wireless network. Do I need to go to WPA2? How I determine if my equipment is WPA2-capable?

Re: Is a neighbor freeloading on my wireless network?
Super User
Super User

WPA2 is the preferred method, however WPA with a strong key does also suffice. Figured I would just throw that out there.

Checking to see if your devices support WPA2 is a matter of looking at their User Guides or Quick Specifications sheets. A general rule of thumb is if the device was made within the last 5 years and it is a Wireless G device, there's a very good chance it will support WPA2. Not all devices support it out of the box, with older devices needed software upgrades but it should be do-able.

The Westell Modems/Routers Verizon hands out requires you to select the "WPA" security option first, before you are able to set the modem up to use WPA2-PSK AES Security. When you select WPA it will take you to a page with a drop-down menu containing a list of options for security and mode, and it will also ask you for a Passphrase. It's a rather obscure way of setting up WPA2 but it should be there.