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The iPhones Are Lying To Your Network

November 17, 2020

Last month I wrote about MAC addresses. (You Have A MAC Address. And it’s The Only One Like It In The World.) I pointed out that MAC addresses are unique and that the first part of the MAC address identifies the manufacturer.

Several unidentified devices appeared on my network masquerading as my son Brian’s iPhone. They weren’t his iPhone and their MAC addresses did not them as Apple devices.

I have teenagers in my house. And I also have pretty good firewalls setup. Over the years my kids have tested my security. Occasionally, they’ve gotten past me for a time. More often, they haven’t made it past the first layer of my multi-layered security.

No one ever fessed up to the devices with the faked MAC addresses. I suspected that they were network devices that once inside my network would attempt to spoof my security. I would remove the devices from my quarantine area. They would almost immediately come back. It was annoying, but if none of my kids would fess up, there wasn’t a lot I could do about it.

And then today happened. My lovely wife has an iPhone. It’s not surprisingly identified with her name. She had some issues with accessing our network. As I was troubleshooting her access, I noticed another iPhone had attempted to join our network. And sure enough, it had a spoofed MAC address.

This was getting really old. But, then I noticed that it appeared the spoofed MAC address was coming from my lovely wife’s phone. That made no sense. She had completely open access on our network. Could it be that one of our ids had sabotaged her phone? Installed MAL-ware perhaps?

I started to have a strange hunch about what might be happening. And like all good IT professionals I consulted my techy-wizard oracle. . .I started googling.

SEARCH: iphones showing two mac addresses

I got a hit on the second link.

Jul 4, 2019 1:29 PM in response to Baanman

When an iOS device is scanned by a network it returns a bogus MAC address to prevent the Wi-Fi router from tracking the phone. If you choose to connect to the network the correct Mac address is returned.

And just like that all those random iPhones with invalid MAC addresses suddenly made sense. The great thing about working in IT is that you are in a field were every 18 months your expertise becomes obsolete.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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