I'm interested in knowing if my ISP can see if I'm using a password for my wireless router or not and, in the case they can, if they can also see my password.

I'm using both wired (computer) and wireless (phone) connections. I'm in essence wondering if they can see if it's a protected or unprotected network. I'm in Sweden, if that matters.

It depends.

If your wireless router is managed by your ISP, then they may be able to see whether your wireless network is password protected or not and possibly even the password. As an example, Comcast had an issue like this where customer Wi-Fi passwords were leaked.

If, however, you purchased your own wireless router, then your ISP should not be able to access any of that information.

  • 1
    In NYC Time Warner Cable/Spectrum routers send passwords back – David Grinberg Aug 22 at 4:24
  • 2
    If the wireless router is managed by the ISP, they can usually read more config data than you and take-over the router in a blink. – Mast Aug 22 at 7:08

If its an ISP supplied router, especially a modem router or they have some additional control over it - it is possible. If its your own router, practically short of having someone wander around checking, its unlikely.

However, some ISPs might suspend service due to "suspicious" activities or send you nastygrams.

On your own router or routers - it should be impossible for the ISP to see your wifi password (it would be a nasty security hole), nor should there be any reason for them to need your wifi password (so they shouldn't need to know it, or ask for it).

Even with many ISP supplied routers, the password is randomised on a router in a sealed box so it is unlikely the ISP will know what it is.

Any service that sends your password to a third party is a terrible idea. People sometimes don't realise things are terrible ideas. If you suspect your ISP is doing this, you may want to check, both online and with the ISP what their services are.

  • Unless you're on a farm or wilderness area, they could check with google's database of wifi's found at your location during mapping, or if they are also a cellphone provider (or partner with one, or some) they could have reports from cellphones that have been used near your location. Nit: this could tell them if your wifi uses a secure protocol like WPA2, but not specifically a password, e.g. you could be using some forms of EAP. – dave_thompson_085 Aug 22 at 7:21
  • In terms of the password, Spectrum when installing a service for me said the password was chang3me. Not very randomized – Hogstrom Aug 22 at 16:46
  • Hence me saying with many, not all. – Journeyman Geek Aug 23 at 10:45

The things to consider are what means would your ISP have to determine the state of your home network.

Things will vary from ISP to ISP. That said, if you bought the bundle where they provide the modem and router chances are pretty good they set some knowable values and may have even "stored them to trouble shoot". Worst case scenario imho.

If you have your own equipment there are still things that they can mine from you. They can sniff your traffic (if its not encrypted) and store DNS results. Build a profile on your likes and dislikes.

They also could potentially sniff the wireless network to crack the encryption to look at you traffic but that would seem unlikely. Possible, but, it would be expensive and they would probably only do that as part of some legal action.

Best advice I have is assume your network is not safe and use a VPN to access your favorite services and the majority of your profile would be hidden.

Indeed, as Worthwelle puts it, whether an ISP can know the WiFi password depends on whether your wireless router is your own (That is, it is provided by the ISP or purchased by yourself).

I would like to add that the encryption modes currently available in wireless routers are: WEP, WPA-PSK (TKIP), WPA2-PSK (AES) and WPA-PSK (TKIP) + WPA2-PSK (AES). They can all encrypt the data, making our network a protected network, whether the router we use is ISP's or purchased by ourselves.

So it depends on whether the ISP knows whether the router uses a certain encryption scheme to determine whether the ISP knows whether it is a protected network or an unprotected network.

Something to remember is that you are on your ISP's network, and they usually can directly connect to yours (depending on the individual users permissions within the ISP), if you have a provided router that came with a default username/password and you haven't changed it, they will most likely be able to access the configuration of your router.

If you have brought a new router, then as long as you have changed the login details then they won't be able to see the configuration.

Source: I worked for an ISP (In the software dept.)

  • routers have disabled WAN access by default – phuclv Sep 8 at 16:04

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