What is MAC filtering and how can we use it

The operator’s network infrastructure reaches your home and gets distributed inside. The router is the one responsible for this. Everything a device is capable of (taking into account connection limitations) and the local network security depend on the router. MAC filtering is used to deny access to devices, that is, to limit connections accepted by the access point. Therefore, this is a major security measure.

Setting up a network and keeping it secure is easier on wired internet connections. We just have to physically connect the device to the router. Besides, we can take full advantage of the connection from the “starting point,” which is the router itself. As for Wi-Fi networks, there may be a drop in transfer rates and keeping them secure is somewhat more difficult, as setting up the network is more complicated. However, Wi-Fi networks are essential for devices like smartphones and tablets.

MAC filtering is a security measure on Wi-Fi networks.

MAC stands for Media Access Control. MAC filtering allows us to create a whitelist of devices to which we grant permission so they can connect to the router and exchange data packets. To put it simply, MAC filtering is used to allow or deny access to the Wi-Fi network based on the device. A unique identifier is used per each device to give them access only if they are whitelisted. We can also do the opposite and create a blacklist to only deny access to certain identifiers.

There are three ways we can set up MAC filtering on Wi-Fi routers

As we were saying, we can create either a whitelist or a blacklist. There are also three options to set up a router’s MAC filtering. It is common for MAC filtering to be turned off by default, so the access to the Wi-Fi network is based on other filters like the network’s security password. Additionally, we can turn on the whitelist or the blacklist:

  • The whitelist is used to allow network access to identifiers.
  • The blacklist is used to deny network access to identifiers.

According to this, we would only need the password to access the connection with the former option. With the latter option, we would need the password and include the identifier on the MAC filtering. A third option would forgo the password: if we are blacklisted, we will not be able to access the Wi-Fi network.

How to turn on and set up MAC filtering on a Wi-Fi router and what other options do we have

Like with any aspects related to the router configuration, the first thing to do is to go to the router’s interface by using the address unless we are using a different one. We type in the username and password, and we will see the settings. Now we have to look for the Wireless or Wi-Fi option, as the MAC filtering option is only found on the router’s wireless settings.

Once we find the Wireless option, we will look for MAC filtering. This is where we need to bear some things in mind in order to manage the Wi-Fi network. We can use the MAC filtering option to create either a whitelist or a blacklist with the addresses that we want to allow or deny access to, just as we were saying. We must also take into account the Wi-Fi network’s SSID.

Why? Because we can create different MAC filters based on the SSID. By doing so, we can have a main Wi-Fi network connection for regular users with just MAC filtering options for their devices, and we can have other SSIDs for guests with different filters based on MAC identifiers.

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