MAC addresses vendor identification tool This tool allows you to check the vendor of a given piece of hardware by checking its MAC address. MAC addresses are a critical part of networking. They uniquely identify devices on a network and are necessary for most layer two protocols. In this article, we will take a closer at MAC addresses and try to answer some of the frequently asked questions like: Table of Contents What is a MAC address? How are MAC Addresses Used? Format of the MAC address What are the differences between MAC Address and IP Address? Types of MAC address Unicast MAC address Multicast MAC address Broadcast MAC address How to find the MAC address on a Windows device? How to find the MAC address on Mac OS? How to find the MAC address on Linux? How to find the MAC address on iOS? How to find the MAC address on Android? What is MAC address spoofing? How does MAC address Spoofing work? Detection and prevention How to change the MAC address of a device? How to change the MAC address Windows How to change the MAC address in Linux How to change the MAC address in Mac OS Using third-party software to change the MAC address Conclusion What is a MAC address? MAC addresses play an essential role in networking because they provide a way for devices to identify themselves and communicate with each other uniquely. Every device that connects to a network has a unique MAC address. MAC stands for Media Access Control, and MAC addresses are also referred to as Hardware addresses Ethernet addresses MAC addresses are used by the Media Access Control layer of the OSI model. MAC addresses are often assigned by the manufacturer of a Network Interface Controller (NIC) and are stored in its hardware, such as the read-only memory (ROM) or the device's firmware. This is important because MAC addresses need to be unique so that they can be correctly processed by network protocols. If two devices had the same MAC address, they would be trying to use the same resources, which would cause errors. As a MAC address is assigned to each network interface, devices can have multiple MAC addresses. For example, you might have two MAC addresses—one for Ethernet and one for Wifi. Bluetooth connections also have their unique MAC addresses. How are MAC addresses used? When a device sends data over a network, the data is accompanied by the MAC address of the sending device. The receiving device can then use the MAC address to identify the sender and send a reply. MAC addresses can also be used for other purposes, such as identifying devices for security or controlling network access. Many routers allow you to specify which MAC addresses can access the network. This can be used to prevent unauthorized devices from joining the network. MAC addresses can be used for tracking purposes. For instance, if you want to find out which devices are connecting to your Wi-Fi network, you can look at the MAC addresses of the connected devices. MAC addresses can be used to troubleshoot connection problems on a network. By looking at the MAC address, you can quickly identify which hardware device is sending or receiving data. Format of the MAC address The MAC address comprises six pairs of hexadecimal digits. (Hexadecimal number system uses 16 symbols instead of 10 like the conventional number system.) For example, a MAC address might look something like this: 00-0C-29-20-4A-E4. The first three pairs (00-0C-29) are known as the Organizationally Unique Identifier (OUI). They identify the manufacturer of the equipment. The OUIs are assigned by an organization called the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and no two manufacturers can have the same OUI. This ensures that every MAC address is unique. The last three pairs (20-4A-E4) are known as an individual identifiers. They are assigned by the manufacturer and are specific to each piece of equipment. No two devices will have the same MAC address. What are the differences between MAC address and IP address? MAC AddressIP AddressA MAC address is a unique identifier assigned to every network card.An IP address is a unique identifier assigned to each device that connects to the internet.MAC addresses are used by the Media Access Control protocol, which dictates how data is sent over Ethernet networks.IP addresses are used by the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) for devices to communicate with each other via the internet. MAC addresses are hard-coded into a network adapter.IP addresses can be either be static (fixed) or dynamic (assigned by a DHCP server). MAC addresses are used by the Media Access Control (data link layer of the OSI model) protocol for Ethernet networks.IP addresses are used at both the data link and network layers for internet/ inter-device communication.MAC Address is assigned by the manufacturer of the network interface.IP Address is assigned by the internet service provider (ISP).MAC addresses are 12-digit hexadecimal numbers (48 bits in total) that are usually written in pairs separated by colons, such as 01:23:45:67:89:ab.IP addresses are 32-bit binary numbers usually expressed in quad-dotted decimal notation, such as 192.168.1.1. Types of MAC address There are three main types of MAC addresses: Unicast, Multicast, and Broadcast. Let's take a closer look at each one. Unicast MAC address A unicast MAC address uniquely identifies a single NIC in a network. A unicast MAC address can be either globally unique or locally unique. A globally unique MAC address is assigned by the manufacturer and is supposed to be unique across all devices worldwide. A locally unique MAC address is allocated by the network admin and is only supposed to be unique within the local network. Multicast MAC address A multicast MAC address is used to identify a group of devices on a network. When you send data using a multicast MAC address, that data is received by all devices in the group. Multicast MAC addresses are often used to broadcast live video or audio streams. Multicast MAC addresses are usually expressed as 01-00-5E-XX-XX-XX, where 01-00-5E (first 3-bytes or 24 bits) are reserved by the IEEE, and the remaining 24-bits (XX-XX-XX) is the least significant of the IP multicast group address being targeted. Broadcast MAC address A broadcast MAC address is used to send data to all devices on a network. When you send data using a broadcast MAC address, that data is received by every device on the network regardless of whether or not they're in the same group as the sender. Broadcast MAC addresses are often used to send system updates or notifications to all devices on a network. How to find the MAC address of a device How to find the MAC address on a Windows device? Press the Win + R keys to open the Run dialogue. Type cmd and click Ok. Once the cmd.exe window opens, execute the command. ipconfig /all You can find MAC address under Physical Address line for the respective interface, either virtual or physical. Windows (Source) How to find the MAC address on Mac OS? Open the terminal. Execute the below command. ifconfig You can find the MAC address for each network interface under ether. Mac address linux How to find the MAC address on Linux? Open the terminal. Execute the below command. ifconfig You can find the MAC address for each network interface under ether. Mac address linux How to find the MAC address on iOS? Open Settings. Go to General. Click on About. You can see the MAC address for Wifi and Bluetooth connections. iOS (Source) How to find the MAC address on Android? Open Settings. Scroll down and select About phone. Click on Status. You can find the MAC address for the Wifi and Bluetooth connections. Android (Source) What is MAC address spoofing? In networking, spoofing refers to forging identity information to gain some advantage. For example, an attacker might spoof the IP address of a trusted server to trick a victim into sending sensitive data. MAC address spoofing is sometimes also called MAC flooding or MAC cloning. How does MAC Address Spoofing work? MAC address spoofing is a type of spoofing that occurs at the link layer. In this attack, the attacker alters the MAC address associated with their network adapter to impersonate another device on the network. This can allow the attacker to intercept data meant for other devices or even gain access to restricted areas of the network. MAC address spoofing is a severe security threat, and network administrators must be aware of this attack vector. When MAC address spoofing is performed, the Ethernet frame's source and destination MAC addresses will differ. The MAC address of the source will be the MAC address of the attacker's machine, and the destination MAC address will be the victim's machine MAC address. MAC address spoofing can perform a man-in-the-middle attack or a denial-of-service attack. In a man-in-the-middle attack, an attacker can intercept and modify the traffic between two devices without being detected. In a denial-of-service attack, an attacker can send forged Ethernet frames with a spoofed MAC address to flood the victim’s machine with traffic and prevent it from communicating with other devices on the network. There are a few different ways that MAC addresses can be spoofed. The standard method is to use a MAC address changer tool to update the MAC address of the network interface. This can be done quickly on Windows and Linux systems. Other ways to spoof MAC addresses are using a virtual machine and a hardware device that supports MAC address spoofing, such as a router or switch. Detection and Prevention MAC address spoofing can be difficult to detect because it does not necessarily cause any problems with network connectivity. However, some methods can be used to detect suspicious activity, such as port scanning and packet sniffing. In addition, many networks keep track of the MAC addresses of devices connected to them and can flag suspicious activity if an unexpected MAC address appears on the network. One way to prevent MAC address spoofing is by using encryption methods that do not rely on MAC addresses for authentication. For example, Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) uses encryption keys instead of MAC addresses for authentication, so it cannot be bypassed using MAC address spoofing. How to change the MAC address of a device? Masking or changing your MAC address can be helpful for various reasons, including privacy, spoofing your location, and avoiding tracking. Sometimes, you may want to mask or change a MAC address. Some reasons you may want to do this include: You are trying to avoid being tracked. You want to spoof your location. You want to improve your privacy. How to change the MAC address Windows? Follow below steps below to update the MAC address on your Windows device. Press the Windows key, search for Control Panel, and press Enter. Click on the Network and Internet, then click on the Network and Sharing Center. On the left side, click on the Change adapter settings. Search for the network device you want to update the MAC address of and select it. Click on the Properties from the drop-down menu. Click on the Configure button. Select the Advanced. Then, under the Property section, select Network Address. You can update the new MAC address here: Updating MAC Adress on Windows How to change the MAC address in Linux? For Linux distributions, List down all the network interfaces using command ifconfig. Let's assume you want to change the MAC address for the interface named en0. First, you have to disable the interface using the below command. sudo ifconfig en0 down Then, to update the MAC address, use the below command. sudo ifconfig en0 hw ether xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx Where x's should be replaced with a new MAC address for en0 interface. Finally, you need to start the interface again using the below command. sudo ifconfig en0 up You can verify the new MAC address using command ifconfig How to change the MAC address in Mac OS? If you have a computer with macOS, use the following steps to change the MAC address. Open the terminal app. Type the below command to get all the network interfaces. Let's say you want to change the MAC address of the network interface named en0, then execute the below command. sudo ifconfig en0 xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx Where x's should be replaced with a new MAC address for that interface. Using third-party software to change the MAC address There are several third-party software available that you can use to change the device's MAC address. These tools allow you to update the MAC address without much hassle of CLI commands. Below are two of the most popular software. Technitium MAC Address Changer GNU MAC Changer Conclusion In conclusion, here is everything you need to know about MAC addresses. MAC addresses are used in various ways and can be found on all devices. MAC addresses can help you in many ways, including understanding your network better and improving your privacy. We hope this article helped explain MAC addresses and their various uses. Thank you for reading!