It’s an internet-driven age. Everything from phones to TV and even cars is now linked to the online world. Despite how much you use the web, you may not think much about the tools that enable digital lives and connect you to it.
Along with smartphones and cellular connections, routers form the backbone of internet connectivity. In this guide, you’ll find a little more about how routers work, how you can use them to monitor network activity, and a few tips to provide you with more security.
How Do Routers Work?
Routers are used in local area network (LAN) and wireless local area network (WLAN) connection. They take the signal from a cable/DSL modem and split into channels so many devices can access the internet at once.
At the same time, routers connect all devices on the network. This is how you can print something on your home network from your computer or send files between devices.
Because of the way routers work, it’s possible for network admins (and others with the right technical knowhow) to use connections to not only monitor internet activity but also setup blocked websites, bandwidth, and other limitations.
Can People See What I’m Doing on a Network?
Yes. You don’t even need to be an admin in many cases to get access to this data. It’s easy to track the IP addresses and URLs of all sites visited on the network. While they may not see the specific content of an email or page, they know enough to assume what you were doing.
It is all possible by checking the router history on your computer or via a WiFi history viewer app.
How to Use a Router to Monitor Internet Activity
It’s especially easy to check the router history on your router. Be aware; individual steps may vary depending on the brand and model of your router.
- Open your internet browser on your device and type in your IP address. You can find your IP address in your network settings.
- You now see the dashboard of your router. Enter your admin credentials. You can find these at the base of your router or wherever you stored the admin information.
- Through the dashboard, find the log settings. You may also have a WIFI history viewer or activity viewer option.
- Linksys and some other manufacturers don’t have this option enabled by default. You need to turn it on and will only see internet logs after enabling.
See Activity of Specific Users
You can also track individual user activity. To do this, you need to know the particular device IP address. You can find it under the Attached Devices section in the dashboard. The router gives you clues by indicating the type of device and operating system it is using.
Once you have the specific IP address you are looking for, check the Router logs against the IP address to see a list of website IP addresses the device was visiting.
What If I’m Not an Admin?
There are other ways to monitor internet activity even if you’re not an admin. Do note, this way is a little more complicated and may be a violation of network usage terms.
You can first check your network settings to see if any other devices are public on the network. Windows 10 often asks you whether you want to be discoverable on systems. This is what that is. If someone has clicked yes, then their IP address is visible.
There are other tools to see network logs even from remote locations using Windows Server Event Viewer or other software. But these take advanced expertise to use.
How Can I Use the Internet More Privately?
After reading this, you may feel concerned about how easy it is for people to track your internet activity. It’s not difficult to get a distinct sense of individual internet activity. You never know who has access to router logs, especially in public environments.
For your safety, it’s essential to use a VPN (virtual private network) to safeguard your privacy. What is a VPN? VPNs (https://nordvpn.com/what-is-a-vpn/) anonymize and encrypt your network connection. Not only can nobody see what you’re doing, but none of your activity could be traced back to your device anyway.
Connecting to unsecured WiFi networks can lead to your credit card details, personal identification number, or other personal information falling into the wrong hands.
With a VPN, you can use the internet privately and never worry about who might be using the strategies in this guide to spy on you.