Do Routers Have MAC addresses

Any device that is connected to a network typically has two addresses- an IP address and MAC address. These addresses identify the logical and physical locations of the devices. In this time and age where we live by the internet for data access, shopping, working and all kinds of convenience; you have probably come across routers and used them multiple times.

Yes- routers, just like any other device connected to a network, have MAC addresses. In fact, they have not just one- but multiple MAC addresses.

How routers work

The essence of routers is to connect or ‘route’ devices to the internet or network. Nonetheless, networks use different layers of abstraction to communicate.A router works on the third layer of the OSI model, and it is based on the IP address of a computer. It uses certain protocols to communicate between two or more networks. It is also referred to as an intelligent device as it can identify the best route to transmit network or data packages from source to the destination automatically.

Routers constantly have multiple devices connected to them; laptops,phones, televisions etc. These devices therefore need a way to consistently identify each other. The creators decided to give each device its own unique address, which acts like a serial number. This is the MAC address. So every connected device has to have one.

Reasons why a MAC address is important for a router:

  • The MAC address is directly responsible for directing the data package from the internet to the exact device that requires it. In this way, MAC addresses enable the router to control the traffic that occurs between each of the devices and the internet; as well as the traffic between two or three networks the router may be communicating with.
  • MAC addresses provide a service that somewhat acts as a security feature. This service is called MAC filtering and it works by using a MAC address to deny or explicitly give access to an adapter. ‘Somewhat’ because it’s not completely secure as you can actually change this address.
  • A router can act as a server- and servers require a MAC address to assign an IP address to a network adapter. An adapter cannot be assigned an IP address, unless there is a MAC address; and unless the device gets an IP address assigned to it, it cannot connect to the internet.

Why does the router have three different MAC addresses?

You need a MAC address per physical interface, not just one for the whole router.Each network interface card requires its own unique address. This is because the idea of the design is to ensure that no two devices in the world ever share the same MAC address.

Ideally, each device requires just one network interface card which allows access to internet connection. A router, however, has two network interfaces- a local network interface and a wireless network interface; and an interface on the wide area network port (WAN port) – so each requires their own addresses.

How do I find my router’s MAC address?

The MAC address is usually imprinted on the device before it is dispatched. It is written in the form of numbers at the bottom of the device.

Image from dongknows.com

Can I change my MAC address?

Yes, you can change it. Most routers have a MAC clone feature, which allows you to change your router MAC address.  All you have to do is log into the router’s web interface, go to the WAN (Internet) setting area and choose to enter a new MAC address — you have the choice to pick any, as long as it fits the format.

If yours does not have this feature, you can clone the MAC address of your computer and then click ‘apply change’; the router will take up that address unless you restore factory settings. 

Changing your MAC address can provide some level of privacy, though MAC addresses do not reveal any exact geographic location information like IP addresses do.

 

Changing a MAC address can also be necessary in some cases to keep an Internet connection working.

Another way to generate a random MAC address:

Visit a mac generator website. There are few, simple steps to follow that will help you generate a MAC address. First, you select the number of MAC addresses you want to generate. Then you choose if you want lowercase or UPPERCASE MAC addresses (the default case is lowercase). The next step is to generate the list of addresses by clicking the “Generate MAC address” button!

Please note that the method of changing your MAC address varies according to the operating system you use.

 

Operating System
Method
Windows 10
Start > Settings > Network & Internet, click the connection name then scroll down to view the Physical address (MAC)
Android
Settings> System> About phone> Status>Wi-Fi MAC Address.
Mac OS X
TCP/IP Control Panel – Ethernet icon
Linux and some Unix
ifconfig -a

Conclusion

Routers have three MAC addresses that are essential to the various functions that it carries out. Their main functions are to control internet traffic within your network, provide MAC filtering- which is a security function and lastly they assign an IP addresses to a network adapter when routers are acting as servers.

It is possible to change your MAC address depending on the type of operating system you have. You can use the methods above to change it on your device. Alternatively, you can generate a free MAC address on a website MAC generator.

FAQs

Do I need to keep my MAC address private?

No, you do not need to worry about keeping your MAC address to yourself. There is barely any harm in sharing it since the address is usually visible within the connection you are in.

Can two devices share the same MAC address?

Although it is rare, it is possible. You will, however, end up with an IP conflict since the two addresses will keep colliding and both devices will not get connected.

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