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MAC address

MAC address

(Also hardware address)

MAC address definition

A series of numbers and letters that identify a network device. MAC addresses consist of 12 characters grouped into six pairs, for example 0A:1B:2C:3A:44:5C. The MAC address is assigned to a network interface card that every connected device has. We need these addresses to be able to connect to the internet to send or receive data. As IP addresses identify a network connection, MAC addresses identify hardware. But while IP addresses change constantly, MAC addresses are static because they are only used in the local network.

MAC address tracking

It is possible to track people’s location by using their smartphone’s MAC address. As you walk around, your phone sends out its MAC address to Wi-Fi hotspots. If someone were able to access these hotspots, they could gather information about your whereabouts. Although it is difficult for an individual to have access to many different hotspots, a large company or institution would be able to do that and use the data to serve targeted ads based on its location. The best way to avoid MAC address tracking is to turn off your phone’s or tablet’s Wi-Fi. Even if you’re not connecting to these hotspots, your device is still sending out its MAC address to them.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security