MAC Address

In networking, different information about your cyberspace and connected devices might be used for nefarious purposes, or perhaps not. MAC addresses are hexadecimal identifiers for your network device’s card, and you can find out more about your own MAC details through MAC address lookup tools.

MAC information differs from an internet protocol (IP) details by being limited to a single local network. Thus, even if anyone does somehow get your MAC address, it’s nearly impossible to use it to access any information from an unconnected device.

Nonetheless, while using MAC credentials to commit cybercrime is difficult, it isn’t impossible.

Identity Theft

While networks have IP identifiers, your personal gadgets like your phone or laptop have network cards, each with its manufacturer-assigned MAC address. Your router uses the MAC information to identify each connected device.

With each new connection, the router keeps a list of MAC addresses and only approves the ones on it. It’s basically like a wedding reception where you cannot enter the hall without showing an invite. This is an effective system on paper until of course an unwelcome guest manages to present a duplicate or stolen invite.

On that note, while no one can use your MAC address outside the network, if someone manages to get into close proximity of your router AND gets your router-approved MAC address in the process, it is possible for them to pose as you and access the network through “spoofing”.

What is Spoofing?

Spoofing is a form of digital identity theft where outsiders can acquire and co-opt your network credentials for the illegal activities of their choosing. The issue here is that while there are methods to track wrongdoers on the internet, spoofing allows them to carry on with their antics and eventually frame you for their activities.

As a preventative measure, some devices allow MAC randomization, enabling users to adopt a seemingly new MAC address in place of the real one when connecting to a public Wi-Fi in order to stay one step ahead of spoofers.

Interrupting Network Connectivity

Routers employ MAC filtering to keep tabs on each device connected to a network. It works by making sure that no two users share an identity. What this means is that when your device is turned off, a hacker can access your router with no issue.

If, however, your router sees more than one device sharing MAC credentials, it can get confusing. Others can use this to harass you by making it difficult to connect your computer or tablet or slow down your bandwidth as your router tries to sort everything out.

The Elephant in The Room

Given what we’ve discussed, the question that is most likely on your mind is “how did someone else get my MAC address” to begin with?”

MAC addresses are relatively secure, but not invincible. Often, people that log into public or open Wi-Fi networks through captive portals end up disclosing their MAC credentials and other details to the router, from where they can lead to third parties.

Hacking into your device through your own private network is much more difficult, and given the limitations of leaked MAC addresses, is not especially worth the effort.

However, it’s worth noting that getting access to your MAC address means a great deal of other information is also at risk, and you’ll have to take measures to stop further attacks.

Posing as Networks

A particular issue with public Wi-Fi routers is that they are unsurprisingly not as secure as the protected ones that you’re using at home or the office. Therefore, if someone gets the MAC information of the router, they can create “fake” networks and lure users into disclosing their sensitive data.

For one thing, the use of counterfeit networks is a great way for invaders to track your every move. Since you’ve surrendered your device to their un-secure connection, they can now trace your web activity and potentially collect data whenever you log into social media or engage in online banking or transactions.

How Do You Protect Yourself?

Given the hoops that others need to jump through to threaten your privacy with MAC address spoofing or man-in-the-middle attacks, you need to be careful about the networks you connect to and the sites you visit.

Firstly, use any public or open networks at your own risk. If you suspect a likelihood of MAC spoofing, either use a more secure portal or employ protective measures.

VPNs cannot really secure your MAC address, but encryption can prevent your data from being stolen. Therefore, avoid websites that lack the http:// or https:// prefix. You can set your browser to warn you about such pages.

Bottom Line

The consequences of a compromised MAC address can be serious, but simple safety measures and data safekeeping through MAC address lookup sites can be the helpline you need.


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