What is MAC address – MAC cloning

The world of computer networks is amazing. Intricately designed and some not so intricately, these networks form the foundation for countless applications. You can talk to someone located to the other side of the world, maybe even play a game with them at the same time, all thanks to these computer networks linking our physical world to the virtual.

But how do these machines manage such an amazing feat? Where do these machines blur the line between virtual world and the physical one? Let’s take a look

MAC Address

Every computer, which needs to get on the Internet and talk to other computers needs a NIC (a network interface card). Most of the times, the NIC comes built-in the computer but when it doesn’t it can be easily installed. Now when a Network Interface Card is made, the manufacturer encodes a hardware address permanently into it. This address is stored in the read only memory, and is known as the Media Access Control (MAC) address.

This MAC address is a 48-bit address which is used to identify any computer on a network, physically. A MAC address is commonly displayed in base16 (in hexadecimal) as a 12-digit long number. For instance, a MAC address would look like this:

00:1b:21:44:eb:8d

Now, the first 6 digits of this MAC address represent the vendor or the manufacturer of the NIC. Every manufacturer has been assigned a unique identification code by the IEEE for all of their manufactured cards. The last 6 digits of the MAC address represent the card’s unique identity. The unique card number combined with the manufacturer’s unique number gives us a unique MAC address. This allows not two addresses to be alike.

These days all the computers communicate with one another using the MAC address. While it is commonly believed that IP addresses are used for the communication, and it is try, but beneath the IP address lies the MAC address and through here the true communication occurs.

MAC address cloning

If you have been unable to connect to the Internet for some time and your Internet Service Provider claims that your router is the main cause of this outage, you can work around this problem yourself by cloning the MAC address of your Network Interface Card.

Now, every time your computer connects to the Internet, the DHCP server records your MAC and assigns an IP address accordingly. When you disconnect, you lose the IP address. The next time you connect to the network, the DHCP server will take a look at your MAC address and check if it has assigned an IP to you before. If it has and the leasing period hasn’t expired, it will probably assign you the same IP. When you use another router or any other device in between this set up, that device will have a MAC of its own, which could cause Internet connectivity issues for you. It’s not that the router is incompatible, it’s just that the router’s MAC is unknown to your ISP.

To overcome this issue, you can clone the MAC address registered with your ISP and get on the Internet in no time. Simply put, MAC cloning is only useful for getting Internet Connectivity.

How to do MAC cloning?

There are many routers which don’t allow you to do MAC cloning, so make sure to check the compatibility of your router before setting out to do MAC cloning. If your router is compatible, then the process is as follows:

  • Open up a command prompt and type in “ipconfig /all”.
  • Note the physical address of your network adapter.
  • Now go to the administrative panel of your router and put in the same MAC address.
  • Save the configuration & reboot the router.

Now when the router connects to the Internet, your ISP will think that it’s directly talking to your computer, and you won’t have any more connectivity issues.