Just like hacking a computer or cloning a cell phone your home network can be hacked and lurkers can be there when they want watching and even intercepting activity as it flows through a network. Here is what to look for and some of the things you can do to stop it.
Hacked Home Network: Information Context
There’s a few variables that I will need to preface this information with because poor service can vary from internet service provider to internet service provider.
Most folks live in the suburbs or large cities where you’re used to consistent internet service from either a large company like Cox or AT&T. In these cases it can sometimes be easier to recognize some of the signs if someone has gotten on to your network or sometimes not. Reality is if someone really wants to sneak on there and go unnoticed they can probably find a way to do so.
If you live in an area with a lot of mountains you may not have the best internet service to start with. You may be using satellite internet service which is traditionally not as consistent as broadband service at you either get in the suburbs most small towns or cities.
In our case the people getting on our internet loved to mess everything up so they made it easy to figure out. They even had multiple devices on the network so we were able to both track down the devices on the network as well as the service providers of those devices and get plenty of screen grabs to prove that there was stranger devices on the network.
Router & Modem Devices: Admin Settings & Irregularities
Routers & modems have admin panels which give you access to the device and all of the related settings. This admin panel will also shows you if your network has;
- Unauthorized Devices present on the Network
- Unauthorized Network Traffic
- If your service/bandwidth has been used without permission
* Keep in mind different Routers and Modems have different capabilities just like computers. Some tell you more information than others. Speak with your service provider about details and what devices work well on your service.
Accessing the router will happen through an admin panel provided by your ISP service or by typing in the IP address of the Router device(not your computer, that is a different IP Address).
Once you reach the admin login page it will look like most admin login pages you come across the web.
Network Admin Settings to Your Router: What to Look for for Unauthorized Access
- System Logs – Most Routers keep logs of ALL activity that come across the device. Some devices break activity down into types. While these logs can be hard to read and figure out backup a copy to keep, just in case.
- Device Monitoring – Most Routers/Modems have a section where you can see any and all devices attached to the Network. This will tell you right away if you have unauthorized visitors.
- Port Access – Most Modems/Routers have specific ports for different types of traffic and this can vary from device to device. But… if you see numerous ports, ports with strange numbers, or multiple access attempts then you may have someone trying to get it or who has already accessed your home network.
- Packet Data – Some Routers/Modems keep most of the traffic information and device access info in a form called packet data. A good network admin will know how to read packet data as it will look like computer code to regular folks. As with everything, get a backup.
- Geolocation Data – Some of the fancier network devices (some software apps do this too) will let you see a graphic view of what devices are accessing your network and where they are. This means if you came home and left your phone in the car but, it connected to your network then that will show up as still in your car outside the residence. It also means, if you have some a**hole out in your backyard or awesome next door neighbor accessing your network you will be able to see what devices and where they are.
Outside of your Administrative Settings to your Router/Modem below are symptoms that will tell you whether or not your Home network has been hacked or has had unauthorized access.
With the preface above mentioned, service consistencies in your area can vary depending on a number of elements.
- Regional environment (Mountains, plains, the burbs, etc.)
- Your ISP
- The type of Internet (broadband, DSL, cable, satelite)
- They type of connection (Wifi, Wired)
So, your environment alone can determine just how good your service is. This means if you’re in an area with mountains and you have satellite service you may have service inconsistencies. Similar to cable internet service in some areas when everyone comes home in the evening the service may slow down. Four major events online big football games etc. your service may slow down.
For folks on broadband service in larger urban areas or suburban areas where you make it more consistent service you may still see what would qualify as poor or inconsistent service and that maybe the red flag.
In either case when you’re seeing higher than usual levels of Internet inconsistency it may be time to check your internet, at the point of your network device.
Each device will provide a web based login via site or IP address. Your ISP can walk you through getting access.
Static & Crackling
For static and crackling this may only be the case if you’re using WiFi calling. If you have great setrvice and then experience lousy service and your ISP can’t seem to fix the issue… Time to check and monitor your own network.
In many areas your cell service is good enough that wifi calling only acts as a bridge for those on places like elevators parking garage is places where you may get weak service for a moment or two.
In more remote or rural areas that Wifi service maybe the main service for people using their cell phones at home as their main source of telephone service.
In these cases when you’re at home and you’re finding crackling or static or what sounds like a cell phone call from the early 00 s, it may be time to check/monitor your network device.
Erratic Service: Watch for Ups and Downs
Similar to static mentioned above… Erratic service is just general inconsistencies your internet services fast then slow it’s fast then it’s slow you drop a window you can open the internet you can access your Gmail it’s not working on any mobile devices. Just your basic run-of-the-mill up and downs in your internet service. While this does happen from time to time, it should not be anything that happens all the time.
Being Spontaneously Dropped off the Network… Repeatedly
This is a fun one because if someone has remote access to your router or modem device they can log into your network while people are using it and just bump devices off your home Network.
If you don’t think about it it just seems like huh that was strange and you simply wait till it reconnects and keep on going.
But if you pay attention or you decide to check into your network device which is probably a smart thing to do especially if you’re used to consistently good service that’s your clue that someone might be on your network that shouldn’t be.
What to Do if Your Home Network has been Compromised.
If you think or have confirmed that you have someone who has been lurking on your network here is what you can do.
- Notify your ISP. Provide any screen shots you have as that will be very helpful. While they may or may not be able to do anything immediately. They will have some type of process to follow.
- Reset your device. You may need the help of your ISP to do this. Many modems have a reset button for some it’s a two or even three step process to reset a device but that’s what needs to happen.
- Rename your home network to something besides that odd name that your ISP has assigned, reconfigure your settings so it has at least a WPA or WEP security configuration and reset your password. Have fun with it… I am the ruler of my own Kingdom.
- Password Reset – For password resetting make it one of those long complex convoluted things no one in the world could ever figure out this would be one of the best things you can do.
Ways you Can Monitor Your Network
In our process we discovered oh so many things about how people could do this and how many times you may have to reset your router etcetera etcetera but the one thing that we did learn is it there are so many apps in either the Google Play store or the Apple Store that will allow you to monitor a home network as well as anyone trying to access your own phone through either Bluetooth or one of the other connection ways that’s most cell phones and smartphones have.
So here’s a few list of apps I highly recommend that we’ve actually used and tested out both monitor anyone that may be walking around the house trying to get into the network from outside while we’re at home to monitoring our own devices when you’re out and about and going from Network to network.
Google Play Store
First off when searching for apps to monitor your network, try out these keywords; network analyze, network watch, network monitor, network security, network scan. Depending on your saved searches and your account settings those search terms will get you a good start. The same will be true for Apple users.
Here are some apps that we have found work well for network monitoring and analyzing personal networks.
Network Analyzer – There is both a free version and paid version. The free version is decent but get the paid version for ful functions.
Fing Network Tools – I like this one. It gives you an explanation and not just the complex explanation you see with devices, routers and modems.
Network Master – This app also provides way to optimize performance for your network and is pretty easy to use.
ARP Guard – I have only played with this one a bit but I am liking the interface and the details in the different options.
Hi Security Lite – A great app to get you started. This one provides an easy to use interface with great details on your network activity, as well as security scanning. I haven’t tried the paid version but the Lite version has full functionality.
In the event you do find someone on your network get screen grabs and as much details as you can about the device or devices that are on your network.
While technology based crimes are hard to prosecute, the information from network hacking and stalking through your network will serve as supporting information for any necessary legal action. In those cases the more information you have the better it will be for you in getting rid of the stalker in your life.