iOS8 MAC Address Randomization Update

Posted by AirTightTeam on Sep 25, 2014 9:30:34 AM

by Bhupinder Misra

On Tuesday evening, I reported findings from my testing with iOS8 MAC randomization feature. You can read the blog post here.

I received many queries from readers asking how exactly to generate random MAC addresses in iOS8. I was perplexed why readers are finding it so difficult to generate random MAC addresses even though I had given all conditions in my blog.

Read part I of this blog series: iOS8 MAC Randomization – Analyzed!

I went back to the lab and was able to see the random MAC addresses very easily under those (rather restrictive) conditions.

The phones on which I performed the testing all had their SIM cards removed. This is because, we often swap SIM cards between phones during tests. To eliminate that possibility, I installed a SIM card into the phone and guess what? Suddenly no random MAC addresses!

Apple’s new feature to curb phone tracking won’t work if you’re actually using your phone | via Washington Post

iOS 8's location-tracking protections aren't as powerful as predicted | by Russell Brandom @russellbrandom via The Verge

Report: iPhone anti-tracking feature only works with cell data off | via Gizmodo

And then something hit me and it is even more ridiculous (damning) than the earlier finding that location services should be OFF for random MAC addresses to show up. It has to do with the cellular data connection setting. Basically, if the phone’s cellular data connection is ON, there is no MAC randomization! If you now turn OFF the cellular data connection (Settings -> Cellular -> Cellular Data OFF), random MAC addresses show up.

iOS8 MAC RandomGate:  Who turns OFF location services AND turns OFF cellular data connection while using their iPhone? iOS8 MAC RandomGate: Who turns OFF location services AND turns OFF cellular data connection while using their iPhone?

Bottom line, this further shrinks the population which is covered by MAC address randomization, perhaps to inconsequential levels and maybe even zero. Who turns OFF location services AND turns OFF cellular data connection while using their iPhone. That is why I now call it “iOS8 MAC RandomGate”.

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Topics: Industry, WiFi, Analytics, Smartphones, WiFi Access

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