MAC is the acronym for “Media Access Control” address which is also known as a physical address or hardware address. MAC address is a unique and permanent address for all electronic and networking devices which can’t be changed afterward once it is provided by the manufacturer of the electronic device at the time of manufacturing. However, there have been practices to alter and change the MAC addresses of electronic devices. This practice of alteration is illegal and isn’t encouraged at all. This illegal alteration in MAC Addresses is known as MAC Spoofing.
Anyone can check the details of MAC Address/OUI or vendor-related details and ranges by either inputting the MAC Address or the vendor name of the electronic device in the MAC Address Lookup Tool.
What’s a MAC Address?
MAC address is a unique identifier that is assigned to a network interface. The MAC addresses come in certain three formats.
In all three formats, the M represents the Manufacturer of the device while the S represents the Serial. Whereas the total length of MAC Address is 12 digits hexadecimal numbers and 48 bits or 6 bytes.
The first three pairs, Prefix, represent the manufacturer, and one can clearly identify the manufacturer by seeing the first three pairs of the MAC address and this is unique for every manufacturer. This is also called an Organizational Unique Identifier, OUI; or vendor NIC, Network Interface Controller, as well.
The later three pairs, Postfix, give your device a unique identity to identify the specific device out of numerous devices produced by the same manufacturer. And these three pairs are also known as UAA, Unique Address Assigned by the vendor. However, a device can’t be connected to any internet connection in absence of the MAC Address.
Types of MAC Address
There are the following three types of MAC Addresses.
1. Unicast: One-to-one communication or data transfer between two systems is called Unicast. If the LSB of the first byte of your address is zero (0), it means it is a unicast address. The best suitable example of a unicast MAC address is when we send a message to any individual on WhatsApp or any other Application. Thus this type of communication is termed one-to-one communication.
2. Multicast: The communication or data transfer that is taking place from one system to many systems is known as Multicast. If the LSB of the first byte is One, (1), it denotes that the MAC address is Multicast. The best example of multicast is a WhatsApp group where one can send his message to many at once.
3. Broadcast: When one system transmits the data to all existing devices/systems at once is termed a broadcast. The LSB of the first Broadcast will also be One (1”) because every broadcast address is a multicast address. But every multicast address is not a broadcast address. However the Broadcast MAC Address is a MAC address that consists of binary 1s.
Uses of a MAC Address
1. MAC Address helps in device tracking.
2. MAC Address helps in creating a network of more than one device together via WiFi or Bluetooth.
3. MAC Address helps in securing our network by restricting any unauthorized user or device.
4. MAC Address helps in device identification.
Where to get a MAC Address from?
The device manufacturing companies can’t decide and get the OUI of their own choices. This means the companies don’t have the discretion to get the Prefix of their own choices. Rather they are assigned to devise manufacturing companies by an authority which is known as IANA.
IANA: IANA stands for Internet Assigned Number Authority, which is a global authority entitled to provide the IP addresses and MAC Addresses.
Characteristics of MAC Address
· MAC stands for Media Access Control.
· Electronic device manufacturer or vendor provides the MAC Address.
· MAC Address is stable.
· MAC Address can’t be changed. And any attempt to do so is considered illegal.
· MAC Address’s prefix is constant.
· MAC Address is a physical address.
· There is only one version of MAC Address.
· The length of the MAC Address is 48 bits or 6 bytes.
· MAC Address is the identity of a device.
· Example of MAC Address: 01-23-45-67-89-AB
The MAC Address is an identifier that every network device uses to uniquely identify itself on a network. The MAC Address is made up of a 6-byte hexadecimal number that is burned into every NIC. The MAC address is also referred to as a physical or hardware address that is embedded on every electronic device by the vendor. It looks different on Windows Computers and Apple/Linux systems. So the MAC Address tells us who the device is. After all, the purpose is communication and identification.