Router Privacy

We explain how to tell if strangers are using your Wi-Fi network, and how to prevent it from happening.

QUESTION I logged on to my router the other day, just to have a look around to familiarise myself with it. I became concerned when I noticed a neighbour's name ‘Arthurs-iPhone' listed in the home network. This person lives about 200-300m away from me and has visited my home on numerous occasions. I've now deleted him from the network, but am worried my privacy may have been compromised. Should I be worried? Any help much appreciated. (Also see: what's the best router?)

HELPROOM ANSWER Your neighbour won't be connected to your Wi-Fi network from 200m away. The list of connections on your router is most likely a list of all the connections that have been made in the past. From this information, it looks like your neighbour's smartphone has previously connected to your network on one of his numerous visits.

The information you're looking at is a log of previous connections and details of IP addresses allocated, and so on.

This means you shouldn't be worried that your neighbour is currently connected to your network. It does suggest, however, that his phone is connecting automatically each time he visits – assuming you didn't provide him with any sign-in information.

If you have previously given him your Wi-Fi password, then you have nothing to worry about as you're just seeing a log of a previous authorised connection. If, on the other hand, the fact that he has connected at all has come as a surprise to you, this suggests that you don't have any security set up on your router and it may well be open to all – including other neighbours who live closer by and probably are within range of your network. We suggest that you log back into your router and make sure you have WPA2 encryption set up.

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