Between people visiting your home and random strangers gaining access to your Wi-Fi, knowing who’s connected, at all times, is invaluable information.
You might be scratching your head if you find out that there’s four devices connected when you only own two.
It just so happens that there’s several ways to find out just how many devices are actually connected, allowing you to keep your Wi-Fi better secured. After all, they aren’t the ones paying the internet bill.
1. Checking Your Router Interface
Your modem or router keeps a handy list of devices connected to your network.
First, you’ll need your Default Gateway address. You can find this out several ways. Your safest route is using your computer’s Command Prompt. You can also find your Default Gateway address on websites, but because of the nature of the internet, this isn’t recommended. Stick to your PC’s own tool.
- Hit your Windows Key or select the Windows Icon at the bottom left corner. Type Command Prompt and select the program.
2.If Command Prompt asks for Administrator Permission, select Yes. Afterwards, type “ipconfig /all” without quotations.
- Scroll until you find Default Gateway. Write the address down. You’ll see combinations of numbers and letters, unlike the imagine below. Information was censored for protection.
Now that you have the address, you can use it to access your modem or router interface.
- Open a browser of your choice and type in your Default Gateway address in the search field at the top.
- When prompted to sign in, do so.
Not everyone uses the same internet provider, thankfully, the terms used are synonymous with one another.
- Once inside, find a tab labeled Attached Devices or Connected Devices or DHCP Clients or Status. Here, you’ll see every device that is currently connected to your internet through Wi-Fi and Ethernet.
However, it’s possible the list of devices you see isn’t the complete list.
Devices have what’s known as a “MAC address,” or Media Access Control Address. Your MAC address is unique to your device and rarely ever sees any change, due to the MAC address being linked to your device’s network adapter.
MAC address and IP address can be confused for the same thing, but MAC address is more like your device’s birth certificate, while an IP address is like your place of origin.
Unfortunately, some people can find this information out and use it to trick a network into thinking their device is actually your device.
This includes your IP address. Routers and modems will recognize two devices with the same MAC address and kick one of them off, typically you if your MAC address has been compromised.
Usually, this isn’t an issue the average person deals with. Many devices nowadays have some kind of Wi-Fi capability that you may not have been aware of–even speakers can connect. Make a list of every device that uses Wi-Fi after you’ve protected your network.
2. Use Command Prompt
Command Prompt isn’t only good for finding your Default Gateway. This handy tool can tell you what devices are connected, just like your dedicated modem and router interface.
- Hit your Windows Key or select the Windows Icon near the bottom left corner. Type Command Prompt. Select it and give it Administrator Permission if prompted.
- Once opened, type “arp -a” without quotations.
This list is similar to your modem/router interface, except it doesn’t give specific device names nor is it a complete list.
Devices that are connected to your network are going to match up with the same few numbers in your address. Information is censored for protection.
3. Use An IP Scanner
Programs like Advanced IP Scanner can serve as your secondary line of defense. Using an IP scanner could reveal the hidden devices that were piggybacking off of your network, and cut them off.
Like your router/modem interface, you’ll have access to a list of devices: computers, smartphones, tablets–anything with Wi-Fi and Ethernet capabilities.
Internet providers will, generally, do a great job at finding every device connected, but it doesn’t hurt to have a wingman.
4. PSA – Network Protection
It’s not uncommon for your device to connect to your Wi-Fi if you’re next door at a neighbor’s house. You might even connect from across the street. While this may seem great for your neighbors, this isn’t so great for you.
The unpredictable nature of surfing the web is already dangerous without proper protection and throwing more people into the mix, with access to your connection, is only going to widen the opportunity for problems.
Many of these steps are already in effect right out of the gate. It’s peace of mind to double-check they’re working as intended.
Internet providers adhere to WPA and WPA2 levels of protection (WP3 is right around the corner), also known as “Wireless Protected Access.”
However, you can still find WEP access points, or “Wired Equivalent Privacy,” still up and running. In other words, you should be running away from these access points.
To better understand WEP’s shortcomings, the FBI led their own PSA by demonstrating how easy it was to crack a WEP password. So, if you’re encryption is still WEP-based, you need to upgrade.
A longer, more random, WPA Password
Your dog’s name with a few numbers after it isn’t the most secure of passwords, nor should you be using any personal information. That’s a one-way ticket to getting your Wi-Fi hijacked.
Instead, opt for a long string of numbers, letters and symbols, capitalized and lowercase. It may be a pain to punch the password in, but it’s a small price to pay for another line of defense.
Firewalls come in two types: software and hardware. When you’re surfing the web and get a notification from your firewall, that’s the software variety. Hardware firewalls can be found in modems and routers. They serve the same purpose but work on the outside.