How To Spy on Devices Connected To My Wi-Fi
Has your Wi-Fi connection been uncharacteristically slow lately? While many would directly resort to getting a Wi-Fi booster or upgrading their internet plan, most people overlook a step that could be done before that – check for all connected devices. This step enables you to do real-time router traffic monitoring and identify any unauthorized devices.
The ways on how to see network traffic can be technical. This is why this “How to Spy on Devices Connected to My Wi-Fi Guide” could be of great help especially to those who are not tech-savvy. If that’s what you need to answer, Who is using my Wi-Fi? & Who is on my Wi-FI?, then read on to learn about monitoring your home network traffic and the activities of those connections on your Wi-Fi.
What Can The Wi-Fi Owner See?
Whether you’re the Wi-Fi owner or you’re connecting to someone else’s Wi-Fi, you’d probably want to know what Wi-Fi owners could see and track. Yes, Wi-Fi owners can see and monitor your online activities. There is even a way around seeing the web content of encrypted HTTPS sites visited.
Here is a list of some of the information Wi-Fi owners could view if they decide to monitor the Wi-Fi activity of devices connected to the internet.
- Name of every website visited.
- Address of companies displaying ads.
- The web pages visited, files accessed, and content downloaded (this is if you browse HTTP websites).
- When you connect to the web and how long you stay online for (this includes how much time you spend on every website).
- People you exchange online texts or have internet calls with.
- Content of messages (if you utilize an unencrypted messaging platform).
- The apps you utilize, when you use them, and how often you use them.
Can a Wi-Fi Owner See What Sites I Visited Incognito?
It is a common misconception going incognito will cloak your online presence from everyone. Incognito mode, or its equivalent features, is mainly meant to hide your online browsing history from people who use the same device as you do or those who have access to your personal device. This is why incognito mode does not keep many cookies; it’s also why it automatically deletes your browsing history when exiting the browser or tab.
Just like your deleted browser history, whatever you search incognito is not exactly hidden from the Wi-Fi owner since they can monitor all network traffic. In short, even when you’re Incognito, the following can still see what you do online:
- Network admins
- Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
How To See What People Are Doing on Your Wi-Fi
There are several possible reasons for wanting to check out who is connected to your Wi-Fi. For one, you might want to keep tabs on what your kids are doing online as part of your digital parenting endeavor. Also, you might want to see whether there are connected devices that shouldn’t be connected to your Wi-Fi.
Whatever your reasons may have, let us walk you through how to monitor Wi-Fi traffic and find out who is doing what.
Map Out Your Network
It would be tempting to just go ahead and log in to your router and go through the status page. Yes, you can do this, but only if you’re truly confident you can identify everything on your network by its IP and MAC address. Otherwise, it would be unwise to just delve in. Instead, take a physical inventory first before doing a digital one.
Making a network map is essentially writing down what you know about the network. You can do this by jotting down the devices connected to the network. The list might include smart TV, smart speakers, iPhones, Android phones, tablets, laptops, computers, and any other device. It might help to do this by area; for instance, start in your living room then on to your kitchen and so on.
A network map will help match the devices you expect on your network with the actual connected devices. In case the lists don’t match, it would be faster to separate the legitimate devices from freeloaders connected to your network.
Probe and See What’s On Your Network
Once you’re done with your network map, go ahead and start your digital inventory. Log in to your router and check out the list of connected devices. The list will typically include names, IP addresses, and MAC addresses. Take note that some routers only display the devices using the router for their IP address.
You do have an option to utilize a cross-platform, open-source network scanning tool. Such a tool can find which devices are on your network and a multitude of details like operating system, IP and MAC addresses, open ports, and more. If you find anything unusual, like a supposed Apple TV running an HTTP service, probe the specific device for more information.
After this step, you should have at least a couple of lists, one from your manual network mapping and the other from your digital router mapping. If you choose to utilize a scanning tool, then you can generate your third list.
Home Network Monitor Through Packet Sniffing
At this point, you should have a list of the devices connected to the network cross-checked with the list of your trusted devices. If you see nothing unusual then you’re good. If, however, things don’t match up, consider packet sniffing.
Packets refer to the bits of information sent between two devices, either on your network or across the internet. Packet sniffing, therefore, refers to the process of capturing and examining the bits of information and checking where they go or what they contain. Again, you can utilize a cross-platform network monitoring tool or Wi-Fi spy software not just to monitor traffic on the router but to see what types of traffic are going around the network.
Log Captures Using Wi-Fi Network Spy Tool
You now know how to check and even sniff out unauthorized devices. Take into consideration, however, that someone might connect to your network while not home. There are two main things you can do about this – check the router’s data or use Wi-Fi spying software.
Typically located somewhere in your router’s troubleshooting or security options is a tab dedicated to logging activities. The data you can log and to what extent will, however, depend on the router you have. Some of the data you might see are incoming IP, destination port number, outgoing IP or URL filtered by the device on your network, internal IP address and their MAC address, and the devices in your network that checked in with the router via DHCP for their IP address.
As for the monitoring software, it will not only allow you to spy through Wi-Fi routers but can alert you when someone’s connected to your network.
Monitor Traffic on Router and LockDown Network
Now that you know how to see network traffic and identify which devices shouldn’t be on the network, you can now deal with them accordingly. Here are some things you can do:
- Change the router’s password and turn off WPS (if turned on). Make sure it is a strong password that no Wi-Fi leech or hacker can guess.
- Update the router firmware.
- Set the wireless security mode to WPA2.
How to Monitor Network Traffic with Packet Sniffing
One effective way to address your ‘how do I monitor my network traffic?’ dilemma is by utilizing a packet sniffer. But what exactly is a packet sniffer?
A packet sniffer is hardware or software used to monitor network traffic. It does so by examining streams of data packets flowing between devices on a network or between networked computers and the larger internet. But data packets are intended for as well as addressed to specific machines, so how is it possible? Well, this is possible by utilizing a packet sniffer in ‘promiscuous mode which enables you to examine any packet, regardless of destination.
A packet sniffer, which is also known as packet analyzer, protocol analyzer, or network analyzer, can be configured in two ways – unfiltered and filtered. When in ‘unfiltered’ mode, the sniffer will capture packets and then write them to a local hard drive for further examination. As for the ‘filtered’ mode, packet sniffers will only capture packets containing specific data elements.
Here are the other key things you should know about packet sniffers.
- They can be utilized in both wired and wireless networks.
- What they can ‘see’ depends on network security protocols.
- On a wireless network, sniffers can only scan one channel at a time (but you can go around this by using multiple wireless interfaces).
- Sniffers will allow one to capture just about anything from their Wi-Fi history.
- Outward-facing sniffers can scan incoming network traffic for specific elements of malicious code. This is a great way to prevent computer virus infections and malware spread.
- Sniffers are often included in reputable antivirus packages.
- While packet sniffers or analyzers can be utilized for perfectly legitimate reasons, they can also be utilized by some for malicious purposes.
Beef Up Your Network Security
A great and effective home network monitoring helps ensure stable and reliable IT infrastructure – at least as far as connected devices are concerned. Here are some tips on how to beef up your network security.
- Probe for and identify the critical devices on your network and set up network monitoring software to keep an eye on them.
- Clearly define network policies like the devices to be monitored, data collection, alers, notifications, and so on.
- Configure the servers to work with WMI and SSH networks so the network monitoring software can pull detailed information about your Windows and Linux systems.
- Determine and define typical ranges for device resource utilization.
- Set up alerts and customize the threshold levels.
- Have a plan in place for when to receive alerts.
See Who’s Using Your Wi-Fi
Based on what we’ve covered so far, there are two main ways to monitor Wi-Fi traffic or specifically monitor Wi-Fi activity of all connected devices.
- Wireless Router
If you don’t wish to download any third-party apps to review Wi-Fi traffic, simply opt to check your wireless router. To do this, you’ll need your wireless router’s IP address. There are two default IP addresses for most routers – 188.8.131.52 and 192.168.1.1. Of course, you can also always check the back of your wireless router.
Once you have the IP address, simply open a new browser tab on any connected device and type it in. Next, enter the login credentials (admin and password being the default username and password for most routers). You can check the backside of the router for the credentials. In case you forgot, reset the router and enter the default login credentials.
After logging in, navigate to the list of connected devices. This may differ across routers. Go through the list and decide your next step accordingly.
- Network Scanner
You can download a Wi-Fi network scanner especially if the router does not allow seeing the list of connected devices via its web interface. There are several tools of this kind available on the market. Take note though, that such apps will typically only show active devices or those currently online. Although, there are tools that notify or alert you whenever a device connects to the router.
Consult Your Router Settings
View what’s on your network and monitor Wi-Fi user activity through the router which stores the settings for your home Wi-Fi network. To change something on your network, simply login to your router’s software or firmware. Once in, make changes to the following:
- Network name
- Network password
- Security level
- Create guest network
- Set up parental controls