Stolen Laptop still using Our Wireless Network

  Larnie 13:21 26 Nov 2007

We were burgled 2 weeks ago and had 3 laptops stolen. Last week we noticed when no one in our house was logged on to our WEP secured wireless network that the router was flashing away ie someone was downloading from outside the house. The Netgear Rangemax router has a max range of about 50m (we think)which would include up to about 6 possible properties around ours. We contacted Virgin Media who supply our internet service and they confirmed the IP address of the computer logged in had also been logged in 2 weeks prior to the burglary which makes it almost certain the computer logging on is one of the stolen ones. We told the police but they say they can do nothing without concrete evidence of a single address being guilty which can justify them getting a warrant to retrieve the stolen goods. Is there any way we can pin point precisely to one address the whereabouts of that computer when its logged on. Its currently logging on pretty well every afternoon and downloading furiously which worries us because we think it could be our confidential banking info etc and hence they may finish soon and pass the computer on and we'll lose our opportunity to catch them red-handed! Are there IT companies that specialise in this kind of thing? Any advice would be much appreciated! Thanks.

  recap 13:30 26 Nov 2007

I don't know the answer to your question Larne.

In the short/long term you could rename your wirless network to stop them getting access to it. Just go through the process of setting up a wirleess network and rename it. This would then generate a new encryption key.

  birdface 13:57 26 Nov 2007 here=

  Technotiger 14:21 26 Nov 2007

I guess you have notified your Bank etc ....??

  brundle 14:35 26 Nov 2007

Just to take a step back; WEP encryption is easily broken, and your router is hiding your private IP addresses from the net - unless Virgin specifically stated they knew which machine was connected they will have been talking about your router's public address, the IP addresses assigned to the individual machines never get further than the router. Could it be coincidence that someone locally has taken 10 mins to crack your WEP password and is not using one of your stolen machines (commiserations by the way)?

  GANDALF <|:-)> 15:47 26 Nov 2007

WEP passwords are stored on the computer so no one is doing any 'cracking'.


  Kemistri 16:55 26 Nov 2007

Static WEP keys are usually pretty easy to sniff when the network is active. The utilities and instructions are just a web search away.

MS Technet article about encryption protocols and other stuff: click here

  PalaeoBill 19:34 26 Nov 2007

You could buy one of these and go stand outside each potential address.
click here

Though personally I would be tempted to camp down at the Police station and demand that they do their job. 1 your laptop has been stolen and 2 your broadband is being piggybacked. That's two crimes for the price of one. They should be falling over themselved to arrest someone.

  skidzy 21:49 26 Nov 2007

Larnie , i guess you have your suspicions of the culprit !!!

Surely the police can investigate this further ?

First thing i would do,is remove the encryption key and create a new one...this will stop them piggybacking your connection.
Also look in the routers configuration to hide the SSID and check the routers Nat firewall is enabled.

Though as stated but in my opinion unlikely,WEP is easily cracked.

  ambra4 22:50 26 Nov 2007


Look at MAC Address Filtering in the router for extra security

The manufacturer normally turns “off” this feature, because it requires a bit of effort to set up properly.

However, to improve the security of your Wifi LAN strongly considers enabling and using MAC address filtering.

For a more secure Wireless network you can specify that only certain Wireless PCs can connect to the wireless system

click here

  2neat 23:16 26 Nov 2007

LOL. The police arn't interested. You should change your router settings and setup MAC filter as above. Police are more interested in tax collection duties now!

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