To get the most out of any device in today’s technological age, it is quintessential for every device to be connected to the Internet. To perform this task, every device is equipped with a Network Interface Card (NIC).
The NIC on a system is responsible for connecting your device to other networking devices like a router using WiFi, or a switch through an Ethernet cable. To enable networking devices to differentiate between the devices connected to it, every NIC has a MAC address.
This MAC address on a NIC is etched into the device by the manufacturer, and without a MAC address, a networking device cannot identify a device on its network.
Most people are under the impression that the MAC address of your NIC cannot be changed, this is not the case, and you can change the MAC address of your system. This method of changing your systems MAC address is known as MAC spoofing, and it has several advantages.
MAC spoofing cannot be performed on every device and some manufacturers do not allow users to change their MAC address. If that is the case you cannot perform MAC spoofing on your system
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Why you should change your MAC address?
Before getting into how you can change the MAC address on your Windows and Linux system, it is essential to understand some of the advantages of using MAC spoofing.
MAC address filtering
MAC address filtering enables a networking device to restrict the devices from requesting a connection. To do this a networking device stores a list of MAC addresses that can connect to it and allows only those devices to establish a connection.
So, if you changed a device on a network with MAC address filtering, you might have to change the MAC address of the new system to your old system to gain access to the network.
Static IP assignment
By default, most routers assign IP address dynamically, which means that the same device can get a different IP address when it reconnects to the same network. If you want your router to assign the same IP address to a device, then you can link an IP address to the MAC address of a machine.
This static IP assignment is used during port forwarding, and it’s a good idea to spoof your MAC address so that people who connect to your network cannot access your real MAC address.
As the manufacturer sets your MAC address, it can be used to identify your device uniquely. This kind of identification is mostly done in airports offering free WiFi with a time limit. So, to get unlimited access to free WiFi, you can change the MAC address of your device.
As the MAC address of a device is unique, it can be used to track the location of devices in public places. This kind of tracking is used in Londons’ tube network to track people’s movement. To protect yourself from such type of tracking, you can use MAC address spoofing.
Now that we have a basic idea of how MAC spoofing can be used, let’s move ahead to how to change the MAC address on a Windows system.
Also read: What is the difference between Router and Switch?
How to change MAC address on Windows?
To change the MAC address on a Windows system follow the steps given below
Step 1: Open the Device Manager by searching for it by clicking on the Start menu.
Step 2: Click on Network adapters and select your network interface card. For our system, it is Realtek PCLe GBE Family.
Step 3: Click on Advanced in the window that opens up and click on Network Address.
Step 4: Enter a 12-digit string in the text field and click on Ok.
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How to change MAC address on Linux
There are several distributions of Linux out there and each of them has a different user interface. So to keep things generic we will be using the terminal to change the MAC address.
The MAC address set using this method is temporary and it will change to the original address once your system restarts.
Step 1: Open the terminal on your machine by pressing Ctrl+Alt+T or searching for it in the search window by clicking on the Windows key on your system.
Step 2: Install the net-tools package to use the ifconfig command. Most systems have this package by default, but on some versions of Linux it needs to be installed. To install the same, use the command sudo apt install net-tools and enter your system password to allow the command to run
Step 3: Enter the ifconfig command to get the information about the various network controllers on your system and copy the name of the controller whose MAC address you want to change.
Step 4: Enter the command
sudo ifconfig <name of your network adapter> down.
This powers down your card so that you can change its MAC address
Step 5: Use the command
sudo ifconfig <name of your network adapter> hw ether xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx
to use the desired MAC address for a particular adapter.
Step 6: Enter the command
sudo ifconfig <name of your network adapter> up.
This powers up your network card with a new MAC address
Also read: 25 essential Linux Terminal commands