It was a nasty surprise. That’s right! If your Internet data usage suddenly gets close to almost 2000GB in less than two weeks, something is definitely wrong! In this case, it was all about the Wi-Fi password.
Home Wi-Fi security breach, a true story
And that’s what happened to John, a friend of mine. Just the other day, he got a call from Comcast saying he better curb his downloads or soon he’ll have to pay $10 or every 50GB over the monthly allowance of 1024GB.
The thing is, John hadn’t done anything out of the ordinary. Generally, his most heavy Internet usage is Netflix, but even if he had streamed 24/7, there was no way he could have used some 1900GB in just 13 days. (At Full HD, Netflix uses about 3GB per hour.) To put this in perspective, before this, his average monthly data usage, for years, was less than 250GB.
Long story short, as it turned out, somebody living in the vicinity of his house has been tapping into his Wi-Fi. And since John’s broadband connection was quite fast (he got the 250Mbps plan) that person or person(s) were able to use up a considerable amount of data in a short time.
But it’s John who’s to blame. He’s been quite loose on security. He did have a strong Wi-Fi password, but he wrote it on a corner of a big whiteboard hung in his living room, under a big underscore line that reads “Wi-Fi Password:.”
What’s more, he named his network “John the Cool.” So, anyone who’s been to his house or peeked through one of his glass windows could figure out how to use his Wi-Fi at will. And somebody did exactly that, probably for a while. And that ain’t cool at all!
Here’s the thing, whoever did that could have done even more ill than just abusing John’s Internet connection. But that’s another story.
How to keep your Wi-Fi password safe
The lesson here is that you need to keep your Wi-Fi network safe and don’t assume that’s it safe. Take a moment right now and make sure. Here are a few things to consider:
- Name your Wi-Fi network, something random that doesn’t relate to you. So, don’t name it after yourself, your loved ones, or your home address. Since that Wi-Fi network name will pop up in the Wi-Fi Settings page of any device nearby, it’s not a secret; everyone can find out what it is.
- Make a strong Wi-Fi password. You don’t want to make one that’s hard to type in on a small device (like a printer), but you do want something that’s not easy to guess. Generally, a string of random numbers and letters will do.
- Don’t give that password to anyone. If you need to share your Wi-Fi connection, offer to enter the password yourself on the person’s device, don’t give out the actual password by writing it down or saying it out loud.
- Use a Guest network. Most router with the Guest network feature allows for limiting access as well as data speed on a Guest network.
- Don’t share your Wi-Fi with your neighbors (unless they share the Internet cost with you).
As for John, he learned and has changed his password, which so far fixed the problem. He refused to rename his Wi-Fi network, however. “I want to send a message to whoever used my Internet that they are not welcome anymore!”. And his whiteboard message remains the same.
Maybe the surprise is now reversed. John sure hopes so.