What is MAC address?
Machine Access Control or MAC address is a serial number system for network adapters. No two network adapters can have identical MAC address. This addressing system is essential for directing data packets from one network adapter to another. The network adapter of your computer is identified by its MAC address. However, MAC addresses don’t travel very far. Only the adjacent network adapter knows the MAC address of your network adapter. Similarly, your network adapter only knows the MAC address of adjacent network adapter.
Remember IP and MAC addresses are different. IP address works differently and it is assigned to each device on the local network and the Internet. The IP address of your server travels far through the Internet and everyone or every device knows it widely.
Why You Need to Change MAC Address?
There are different reasons why changing MAC address is necessary. These can be often associated with connection and security issues. For network administrators, changing MAC address is one of the most effective tools in their arsenal.
Reduce Security Risks
When it comes to maintaining your network, security factor often comes into play. Using the same MAC addresses could pose a potential security risk. If you regularly change the address assigned to your network adapter, it will be harder for hackers to track your movement. However, MAC address spoofing is an illegal activity in many countries. Many cyber criminals constantly change their MAC address when carrying out their acts. If you use the same MAC address for an extended period of time, it will be easy for hackers to impersonate you. Whenever you go offline, hackers will take the opportunity to “borrow” your MAC address and do various illegal activities. With various network tools, hackers can see your MAC address. Hackers may lurk in some free public Wi-Fi hotspots to scan the network and capture users’ MAC addresses.
Installed New Network Adapter
If your old adapter card is dead, you will need to replace it with a new one. However, the new adapter may have a completely different MAC address, blocking your access to the network. ISP authenticates connection and identifies your computer with the MAC address. The quickest solution is to change the MAC address to re-establish connection with ISP and the network.
Gain Access to a Network
Some private networks can be accessed only through specific MAC address. The private network won’t accept connection from network adapters with unauthorized MAC address. If you legally obtain permission to access the network, the administrator will give you a MAC address.
How to View Mac Address in Windows 10?
Before you change MAC address on a Windows 10 device, you should know the current MAC address. It’s important because if you make mistake, you can restore the MAC address of the adapter to its default value. There are multiple ways to find the MAC address or the physical address of your network connection in Windows 10.
Method 1 – Using Command Prompt
- Type in “CMD” in the search field and select “Command Prompt” option.
- In the Command window, type in ipconfig /all and hit enter.
Information about your network interface will be displayed and scroll down. The MAC address is the value shown next to “Physical Address”. Write it down on a piece of paper.
Method 2 – Using Windows PowerShell
Similar to command prompt, you can also find the MAC address using Windows PowerShell. Press “Win + X” keys and click on the “Windows PowerShell” option. Enter the same ipconfig /all command hit enter. Your MAC address will be shown against the Physical Address row as shown below:
Method 3 – From Network Status
If you are not able to access command prompt or Windows PowerShell then navigate to “Control Panel > Internet and Network > Network and Sharing Center”. Click on the active network connection to open the network status.
Click on the “Details” button and view the Physical Address which is a MAC address of your PC.
How to Change MAC Address in Windows 10?
The actual step to change MAC address is quite easy. Follow these steps if you use Windows 10:
- Go to “Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center”.
- Click on “Change Adapter Settings”.
- Right click on the preferred network adapter and choose “Properties” from the context menu.
- On the new “Properties” windows, click on the “Configure” button.
- Click on the “Advanced” tab and choose “Network Address” option. Click on the “Value” option and type in the new MAC address in the field. Click on OK once done.
If you are not able to view “Network Address” or similar option then you should edit registry to enable this.
How to Change MAC Address in MacBook?
Just like with Windows 10, you should also know about the existing MAC address. If you make mistake, you can still use the default MAC address to restore your configuration. Follow these steps:
- Go to “System Preferences> Network” and click on “Advanced” button.
- Choose the “Hardware” tab and you can see the MAC address of your network adapter as shown below. Write it down.
On Mac, you can use the Terminal to change the MAC Address. Fortunately, these commands are simple and you should follow these steps:
- Hold down the option key and then click on the Wi-Fi icon located on the menu bar. Find the interface name, it could be en0, en1 or others.
- Open the Terminal, copy and paste this command: openssl rand -hex 6 | sed ‘s/\(..\)/\1:/g; s/.$//’
- A random hex number will be generated. Write it down and you can use for the new MAC address.
- Click on the Wi-Fi icon and then click “Turn Wi-Fi Off” to disconnect it from the network.
- Type in sudo ifconfig en0 ether New-MAC-address. This command changes MAC address on your MacBook.
Reconnect to the Wi-Fi and verify that the MAC address has been changed in “System Preferences> Network> Advanced> Hardware” tab.
This method is effective if a router blocks your MacBook. You should know that if the network has a MAC address whitelisted, otherwise your randomly generated hex value wouldn’t be accepted. In this case, you need to contact the system administrator to add it in the whitelist.
MAC address is your ID on a local network, so you may need to change it to reduce security risks or gain access to a protected network. If you use this procedure properly, it will be easier for you to ensure a secure connection to and from your network.