Wireless networks are widely used today. We have a large number of devices that we can use to connect to the network without using a cable. Over time, technology has improved and today a Wi-Fi network is much faster, more stable and also compatible with more computers. However, there is a very important and also different factor regarding the cable: security. We must take care of it at all times. In this article, we are going to talk about what random hardware addresses are, a feature in Windows that helps improve Wi-Fi security.
Wi-Fi security, a fundamental factor
It is very important to keep our equipment protected at all times. There are many threats on the Internet and they can affect us in one way or another and put our privacy and security at risk. Therefore, we must have antivirus, firewalls, have the devices updated … Now, when it comes to wireless networks, we must try to increase security even more.
A Wi-Fi network can be used by a hacker to break into a home or business network. It could take control of connected equipment and exploit potential vulnerabilities to attack. This makes it necessary to have a good security strategy and to always be protected.
Security problems increase when we connect to a public Wi-Fi network. An attacker could have created it simply for the purpose of stealing information. It could also have gotten into a legitimate Wi-Fi, but use it to accomplish its goals.
A problem that would affect privacy is the fact that through a Wi-Fi network they can know what the MAC address of our device is. They could even track us down in a mall and see our movements.
What are random hardware addresses
After explaining the importance of maintaining security in Wi-Fi networks, we must talk about what random hardware addresses are and, most importantly, why it can protect our devices. It’s a feature that’s built into Windows, the most widely used desktop operating system, and it can come in handy.
Through Wi-Fi we can send information even without being connected. This helps to find networks and thus see availability. It is something that all devices emit. For example, even if we are not connected to a network, our computer sends a signal (as long as we have Wi-Fi activated) to search for networks in the area. This signal sends the unique physical hardware address, also known as the MAC address.
Each computer has a unique MAC address . It is something that identifies the device and could help us, for example, to create a MAC filter on the router and have a white list. It is also necessary to establish a connection with any Wi-Fi network.
Now, if we send that information to an insecure Wi-Fi network, it could pose a problem for our privacy . Let’s say for example that we are in a shopping center where there are many wireless networks available and that are part of the same network. They could know our movements, where we are, by constantly sending the MAC address, even without connecting us.
So what does the Windows Random Hardware Address feature do? Basically generating multiple random MAC addresses . As long as the hardware of our Wi-Fi adapter allows it, we can configure this function and not send our real MAC address, but a large number of random addresses, which are changing, which will allow us to avoid being tracked.
How to use random hardware addresses in Windows
We have seen exactly what the random hardware addresses feature is. We have seen that what it does is generate MAC addresses different from the original, in a random way, in order not to send this information to wireless networks.
However, this function is not activated by default in Windows 10. However, you simply have to follow a series of simple steps to enable it and use Wi-Fi with greater security and privacy.
The first thing we have to do is go to Home. Later we enter Configuration and go to Network and Internet . There we have to click on Wi-Fi . We will see the second option that indicates Random Hardware Addresses . That is the one that interests us.
As we can see, this function is not enabled by default. However, we just have to activate it and that’s it. From that moment on we will send random MAC addresses to nearby Wi-Fi points. We can prevent a potential attacker from collecting that information and turning it against us.
Random hardware addresses for a specific Wi-Fi network
We also have the option of using random hardware addresses only for a specific Wi-Fi network . In this way we will continue to connect with total normality to all the others, but in that specifically we will send random MAC addresses.
To configure it, once again we have to go to Start and then to Settings . There we enter Network and Internet , we give Wi-Fi and we have to click on Manage known networks . A screen will open with the wireless networks to which we have ever connected.
We have to click on a network, the one that interests us, and we click Properties . A new screen will open with different options, such as connecting automatically, the network profile, etc. What interests us is the Random Hardware Addresses section.
As in the general case, we will also find that this option is disabled. We simply have to give the option to Activated and that’s it. From then on we will send random hardware addresses to that network.
We can do this process with as many Wi-Fi networks as we want. We may not be interested in sharing that information with a specific connection that we usually access, such as a shopping center, a company, etc. However, if we want to avoid it in all cases, it is best to configure it in a general way.
In short, the random hardware addresses function is very interesting to further improve privacy and security when using Wi-Fi in Windows 10. We must always take advice of this type into account to avoid making mistakes and ensure that our devices are as insured as they can be.