MAC address stands for Media Access Control or a physical address to identify any devices connected to the internet. The sole purpose of the MAC address is for identification of the device which is accessing the World Wide Web. There are times when it is needed to change MAC address to resolve problems related to connectivity or to fix any broken network path.
In this post, we’ll talk more about how to change MAC address in Windows 10 using different ways, what are pros and cons of changing this address, their limitation and why we need to change the address.
How is the MAC address different from Physical address?
All devices that offer connectivity features to the internet will have a MAC address or a unique identifier, and these unique identifiers are the same as a physical address. All such devices come with an inbuilt Network Interface Controller (NIC) that has a valid and unique physical address. The OS picks those physical addresses in terms of MAC addresses.
The MAC address is then used by the system while connecting to the World Wide Web. All devices (cell phone, computer, IP printer, smart TV, etc.) that comes with NIC or connectivity functionality transmits their MAC address while connecting to the internet. For example, let’s say the IP of the device is 188.8.131.52, and its MAC address is 00:7f: sH: fH:18:08. So, while a connection established, the system will transmit both MAC and IP addresses by binding them together.
In the case of cyber fraud, the cyber expert uses reverse engineering techniques to decode and find useful information.
As each NIC manufacturer has a valid list of MAC pool addresses from which they pick and assign it to a device, hence finding information related to NIC manufacturer is easy. As mentioned above, all NIC integrated on devices like a smartphone, smart TV, laptop; therefore, finding information related to the user who purchased such devices can be identified.
Just like NIC manufacturer has a valid list of MAC pool addresses, the internet service provider or ISP also has a list of IPs from which it assigns to the user.
These days due to shortage of IPv4 address, IP’s are assigned dynamically to any connected devices, and it is released as soon user switch off the connection. Finding timestamp when that IP was assigned to a user and MAC information, detail about such user can be located.
Note: It is recommended to take a screenshot or record the current original MAC address before changing it. It will be helpful to roll back the settings if the new MAC address creates an issue on the network. Find out more about how to take screenshots in Windows 10.
Ways to Change MAC address in Windows 10:
Here is the list of different ways to change MAC address on Windows 10
1) Using Device Manager in control panel:
- Go to search bar on left side bottom -> type device manager -> enter
- In the device manager window -> select network adapters -> Ethernet connection
- Right-click on “Ethernet connection” -> properties
- Navigate to Advanced tab -> select Locally Administered access -> Value -> from “Not present” to blank option and enter new MAC address like 00:7f:sH:fH:18:08 ->ok
The system will update with a new address, and you can check to continue using it until any issue occurs. In the case of reversing the changes, go back to the “Locally Administered Access” option, and select from blank to “Not present.”
2) Using the Network and Sharing Center:
The second way to change the MAC address is by going to the network and sharing centre option.
- Go to search bar on left side bottom -> type control
- Select Network and Internet -> select Network and Sharing centre
- Select Change adapter settings -> Ethernet -> Right-click Properties -> click on configure.
- Like we did in method 1, in the new window, go to Advanced tab -> select Locally Administered Access -> Value -> from Not present to blank option and enter new MAC address like 00:7f:sH:fH:18:08 ->ok
- Close the window; the system will now have a new MAC address to use.
3) Using third party applications like Technitium:
If you don’t want to do all these steps and to look for a more natural way out to change MAC address, then there are third-party tools available like Technitium that will do the job.
- Go to Technitium official site and download the installer
- Install and launch the application
- It will greet with messaging saying the present file is not associated “.tpf” -> click yes to associate this file with Technitium tool
- In the next screen, the system will show all the network devices currently active along with their MAC addresses.
- To change MAC address of specific adapter, select from the list and hit Random Mac Address to get a random MAC value -> click on change now button to enable the changes
Why change MAC address?
Changing the MAC address, also known as MAC Spoofing, is a way to change the default assigned MAC address of the device such as laptops and replace it by a different MAC address.
- Situations where your device is not able to connect to the internet, due to one or the other reason like a pairing of IP+MAC address, doesn’t connect to the internet -> due to MAC being in use or appear to be in use due to issue in NIC card.
- When you are trying to connect to the local area network(LAN) that allows limited users to get connected based on MAC address authentication, the user can change the MAC address and get connected to the internet.
- There are times when a hacker gets your device MAC address changes it on their device and connects to the internet to do spoofing. In such cases, when you are connected to a public network, changing MAC is recommended. Also, the user can lock/bind their device IP’s on a router to avoid any unknown Wi-Fi connectivity.
What are the limitations of changing the MAC address?
The most significant disadvantage of changing the MAC address from the interface is it is adapted for a limited period. The physical address remains the same.
Let me elaborate on this, as all devices come with a unique identifier, and this number integrated physically in the NIC cannot be changed. Hence, the MAC address that will broadcast while setting up connection will be the same. But, in case we want to change the MAC address that can only change the address from the Windows OS interface., however, the physical address remains the same.
Do let us know which method you liked the most and why in your comment section below.