Is My Neighbor Riding My Wireless Network?

I got the following inquiry from a client today, “ Can you tell if anyone is using your wireless router who does not live in your house?”

The answer is – yes you can, but it takes a little detective work. First you need to log on to your wireless router. Usually you can do this by opening a browser window and entering the router IP address. This is commonly Then you will need the user ID and password, and this is usually found in the router documentation.

Your Wireless Router will be assigning the IP address using a process called DHCP. On my Linksys router, this information can be found on the Status Tab under Local Network. Click on the DHCP Clients Table (below). On other manufacturers you will just need to search for the DHCP assignment list. (Click on the image to enlarge it)



Here is where the detective work comes in: You need to get the MAC addresses of the computers in your house, both wired and wireless, and then compare them to the addresses on the list. Or if you have 2 computers in your house and 3 or 4 computers on your list, you can determine if there are more than should be there simply by counting.

To get the MAC address and assigned IP address, open a Command Prompt (START, Run, CMD or All Programs, Accessories, Command Prompt) and type in ipconfig /all leaving a single space between ipconfig and /all.

Every computer ( actually, every network card) has a hard coded address called a MAC address. It is a hexadecimal address and usually looks like this:


Comparing your MAC addresses to the ones on the DHCP Client list will reveal if you have a free rider using your wireless Internet connection.


About the Author:

I am a cybersecurity and IT instructor, cybersecurity analyst, pen-tester, trainer, and speaker. I am an owner of the WyzCo Group Inc. In addition to consulting on security products and services, I also conduct security audits, compliance audits, vulnerability assessments and penetration tests. I also teach Cybersecurity Awareness Training classes. I work as an information technology and cybersecurity instructor for several training and certification organizations. I have worked in corporate, military, government, and workforce development training environments I am a frequent speaker at professional conferences such as the Minnesota Bloggers Conference, Secure360 Security Conference in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, the (ISC)2 World Congress 2016, and the ISSA International Conference 2017, and many local community organizations, including Chambers of Commerce, SCORE, and several school districts. I have been blogging on cybersecurity since 2006 at

Add a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.