Reasoning Behind ID #

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Macoltrane, May 25, 2006.

  1. Macoltrane macrumors member

    Apr 16, 2006
    With all the latest news on security issues and wire tapping I've been thinking abotu the ID numbers on all my Mac products. I may be a bit paranoid but, hypothetically speaking, if the government or Apple wanted to compile a list of all the Airport ID's and registered users and names-could it be done? What is the reasoning behind placing a unique ID number for every part of the computer (apart from taking it down when you hand it into Applecare)? Just something that I've been pondering for a while :)
  2. Josias macrumors 68000


    Mar 10, 2006
    I don't think ther would be any other reason than the AppleCae stuff for it. Perhaps if your computer got stolen, it would be easier to find it. And yes, the thing you were talking about could be done, if the governemtn got access to all Apples archives and all wireless networks in the world:p
  3. Macoltrane thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 16, 2006
    Wow, that's a bit alarming. So if your laptop were stolen, Apple would be able to track down the exact location via Airport Card ID? I see some serious security/privacy issues with this (Apple having some sort of archive of where their customers are).
  4. dr_lha macrumors 68000

    Oct 8, 2003
    I believe it is necessary for how TCP/IP networking works for any network card to have a individual MAC address which is unique to the card. This has the downside of course that you can effectively track what computer internet traffic is flowing to and from if you have the ability to intercept packets as they pass through routers, as the AT&T and the NSA are allegedly doing. Note, its not clear that Apple know the MAC address of your Mac, they know the serial number. Of course they installed the card so they may or may not keep a record of what MAC address matches what Mac.

    Obviously I'm against wiretapping the US public, but I also have never been under the impression that anything I do/send over the internet is private unless I apply some pretty strong encryption.
  5. savar macrumors 68000


    Jun 6, 2003
    District of Columbia
    Thats not entirely true. TCP/IP doesn't care about MAC Addresses, only the ethernet hardware does. If you look at the TCP/IP header (google for it), you'll see the MAC Address doesn't get sent out in any packets.

    So really all you need to do is make sure that any devices on the same ethernet network (not bridge by an IP router, for example) don't have the same MAC Address. To eliminate this possibility altogether, manufactures assign each individual card a guaranteed unique address, and each manufacturer has their own unique prefix.

    My guess is that Apple does record which MAC address gets installed in to which computer. I've seen MAC addresses printed on invoices for other computer manufacturers, so Apple isn't that different.

    But its nothing to worry about. Very few networks are tracking MAC Addresses and recording them. Of course, most sites *are* tracking IP Addresses, and if they contacted your ISP your ISP probably has a record of which MAC Address was using which IP address at any point in time, and so network traffic can be traced back to you in that way. But most network interfaces can have their MAC address manually overridden if this tracking possibility really concerns you. My opinion is just dont do anything extremely illegal and you have nothing to worry about, plus when people are using the internet to do extremely illegal things, the feds have at least one way to try to track them down.

Share This Page