What Is Mac Address Filtering

Mac address

MAC Address (Media Access Control Address) Definition

Stands for “Media Access Control Address,” and no, it is not related Apple Macintosh computers. A MAC address is a hardware identification number that uniquely identifies each device on a network. The MAC address is manufactured into every network card, such as an Ethernet card or Wi-fi card, and therefore cannot be changed.

Because there are millions of networkable devices in existence, and each device needs to have a unique MAC address, there must be a very wide range of possible addresses. For this reason, MAC addresses are made up of six two-digit hexadecimal numbers, separated by colons. For example, an Ethernet card may have a MAC address of 00:0d:83:b1:c0:8e. Fortunately, you do not need to know this address, since it is automatically recognized by most networks.

A media access control address is a unique identifier assigned to a network interface controller for use as a network address in communications within a network segment. This use is common in most IEEE 802 networking technologies, including Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth

Types of MAC Addresses

Types of MAC Addresses

There are two types of MAC addresses: static and dynamic. Depending on their type, MAC addresses are either stored in the Static Address table or in the Dynamic Address table, along with VLAN and port information.

Static addresses are configured by the user, and therefore, they do not expire. A new source MAC address that appears in a frame arriving at the switch is added to the Dynamic Address table. This MAC address is retained for a configurable period of time. If another frame with the same source MAC address does not arrive at the switch before that time period expires, the MAC entry is aged (deleted) from the table.

When a frame arrives at the switch, the switch searches for a corresponding or matching destination MAC address entry in the static or dynamic table. If a match is found, the frame is marked for egress on the port specified in the table. If frames are sent to a MAC address that is not found in the tables, they are transmitted or broadcasted to all ports on the relevant VLAN. Such frames are referred to as unknown Unicast frames.

Difference between MAC address and IP address

Characteristic of mac address

Here, are some important characteristic of mac address:

  • TCP/IP networks can use MAC addresses in the communication
  • It helps you to Identify a specific NIC in a computer on a network
  • Network devices cannot efficiently route traffic using MAC addresses
  • Not provide information about physical or logical network configuration

Difference between MAC address and IP address

Why need Mac address?

Here are pros/benefits of using

  • It provides a secure way to find senders or receivers in the network.
  • MAC address helps you to prevent unwanted network access.
  • MAC address is a unique number; hence it can be used to track the device.
  • Wi-Fi networks at the airport use the MAC address of a specific device to identify it.

Difference between MAC address and IP address

Key Differences Between Mac and Ip Address

  • MAC address is a unique hardware identification number that is assigned to a NIC (Network Interface Controller/ Card), whereas the IP address is an address that helps you to identify a network connection.
  • MAC address is assigned by the manufacturer of the hardware interface while the IP address is assigned by the network administrator or Internet Service Provider (ISP).
  • Mac address defines the devices identity, but IP address describes how the devices are connected to the network.
  • MAC addresses can be used for broadcasting, on the other hand, IP address can be used for broadcasting or multicasting.
  • The MAC address is implemented in the Data-Link layer of the OSI or TCP/IP reference model. In contrast, the IP address is implemented in the Network layer of the TCP/IP or OSI model.

Difference between MAC address and IP address

How to find your MAC address?

Here is a way to find the MAC address in Windows

Step 1) Click on the “start” button.

Click on Start Menu Icon

022220 0757 WhatisaMACA2

Step 2) Type command prompt in a “search” box

Click on the search result.

022220 0757 WhatisaMACA5

Difference between MAC address and IP address

Step 3) In the command prompt

Type ipconfig /all and press enter

022220 0757 WhatisaMACA6

Step 4) Output of the command is shown.

To find out the physical address of the wired or wireless adapter, you need to scroll down and look for the values next to “Physical Address”. This will be your MAC address.

022220 0757 WhatisaMACA9

WHAT IS MAC ADDRESS FILTERING

MAC Address Filtering: What It Is and How It Works

Should you enable MAC address filtering on a router?

Most broadband routers and other wireless access points include an optional feature called MAC Address filtering, or hardware address filtering. It improves security by limiting the devices that can join a network. However, since MAC addresses can be spoofed or faked, is filtering these hardware addresses actually useful, or is it a waste of time?

Should MAC Authentication be Enabled?

On a typical wireless network, any device that has the proper credentials (knows the SSID and password) can authenticate with the router and join the network, obtaining a local IP address and therefore access to the internet and any shared resources.

MAC address filtering adds an extra layer to this process. Before letting any device join the network, the router checks the device’s MAC address against a list of approved addresses. If the client’s address matches one on the router’s list, access is granted as usual; otherwise, it’s blocked from joining.

Router with cables plugged in.
Lorenzo Carafo / Pixabay

How to Configure MAC Address Filtering

To set up MAC filtering on a router, the administrator must configure a list of devices that are allowed to join. The physical address of each approved device must be found and then those addresses need to be entered into the router, and the MAC address filtering option turned on.

Most routers display the MAC address of connected devices from the admin console. If not, use the operating system to do it. Once you have the list of MAC address, go into the router settings and put them in their proper places.

For example, to enable the MAC filter on a Linksys Wireless-N router, go to the Wireless Wireless MAC Filter page. The same can be done on NETGEAR routers through Advanced Security Access Control, and some D-Link routers in Advanced Network Filter.

Does MAC Address Filtering Improve Network Security?

In theory, having a router perform this connection check before accepting devices increases the chance of preventing malicious network activity. The MAC addresses of wireless clients can’t truly be changed because they’re encoded in the hardware.

However, critics have pointed out that MAC addresses can be faked, and determined attackers know how to exploit this fact. An attacker still needs to know one of the valid addresses for that network to break in, but this too is not difficult for anyone experienced in using network sniffer tools.

However, similar to how locking your house doors will deter most burglars but not stop determined ones, setting up MAC filtering prevents average hackers from gaining network access. Most people don’t know how to spoof MAC address or find a router’s list of approved addresses.

MAC filters are not the same as content or domain filters, which are ways for network admins to stop certain traffic (such as adult and social networking sites) from flowing through the network.

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