Every device on Internet is connected in one or other form. All these device have an address and this address is a combination of a software and a hardware address. Without the combination of software and hardware address it is impossible to exchange data. The software address of a device is known as IP address. DNS uses IP address to locate the machines in the Internet. IP address can change dynamically. So there has to be a fixed address assigned to your computer/smartphone. The hardware address of a device is called as MAC (Media Access Control) Address.
MAC (Media Access Control)
MAC also known as physical address of a computer is assigned to a hardware called as NIC (Network Interface Card). Network Interface Card is hardware which enables a computer/smartphone to connect to the network. NIC converts the data into machine understandable form. MAC address is assigned to a Network Interface Card when it is manufactured. MAC address is unique for all the NICs.
The example of MAC address is 00:0a:95:9d:68:16. This does not look like IP address. MAC address is a combination of 6 parts each separated by a colon having two characters each. The first 3 parts of a MAC address identifies its manufacturer. Each manufacturer places it OUI (Organizationally Unique Identifier) in the MAC address. Some of the famous MAC manufacturers are Dell, Nortel, Cisco and Belkin. The last 3 parts of MAC address is known as Universally Administered Address. It is also called as serial number of NIC or MAC address.
How Does MAC Address Work
Whenever data is sent from one device to another it is sent into small chunks known as network packets. Each network packets has source and destination IP addresses. But, they also contain the MAC address of both the computers. Which makes it easy to identify the devices.
ARP (Address resolution protocol) is used to find the MAC address of a specific IP address. The reverse process is also possible. ARP can be used by routers to resolve the MAC addresses of the devices located in its network. MAC address plays important role where IP addressed of machines changes frequently.
MAC address can be hidden while sending the packets which is known as MAC spoofing. It is impossible to change the hardware address of a device. But yes, it can be masked.
Uses Of MAC Address
- MAC address is useful in the networks where IP addresses change frequently. Here it makes easier for a network administrator to monitor the network traffic with the help of MAC addresses of the devices.
- You can configure your router to allow only certain traffic from specific MAC addresses. Which means you filter the traffic and allow only the traffic from those MAC addresses which you have white listed. This is called as Network Filtering and it is a great security measure.
- MAC address enables us to identify a device uniquely from all the bunch of devices spread in this large world.’
Here we tried to explain you what is MAC address in simple language so that every one can understand. We will soon write about all the technical aspects of the MAC address.
Do let us know in the comment section below what you think about the article and as always we are always open for the questions.