Use MAC address-based access control

This is an advanced security option that allows computers and other devices to connect to a WiFi network – but only if they have an authorised MAC address. This is a series of letters and numbers used to identify network devices. MAC addresses are usually written in pairs, with colons (or sometimes hyphens) as separators. For example, a MAC address could look like this:

04:1F:64:EF:A9:4D
or
04-1F-64-EF-A9-4D

WiFi routers can be instructed to allow connections only from a list of MAC addresses that you supply. To use this method, you need to gather together a list of all the MAC addresses of the computers and devices you wish to authorise on your WiFi network, and enter the details into your WiFi router's administration interface.

To find out how to do this on your Virgin Media Hub, check Setting up MAC filtering on your Virgin Media Hub.

To find out the MAC address of a Windows XP (or later) machine, follow these steps:

  1. Type cmd and click OK.
  2. Type ipconfig /all and press Enter.
  3. Details of each installed adapter will be displayed. Look in the Physical Address section of your WiFi adapter for the MAC address, written in the style above.

To find out the MAC address of a Mac OS X machine, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Mac HD > Applications > Utilities.
  2. Double-click Network Utility.
  3. Choose the network interface that relates to your WiFi connection – if you're using built-in WiFi technology, the option is likely to be labelled AirPort (en1).
  4. Look at the Hardware Address for the MAC address, written in the style above.

To find out the MAC addresses of other WiFi-capable devices, consult the documentation that came with those devices. Some of these devices may have their MAC addresses printed on the case.

As with other security methods, it’s still possible for a hacker to gain access to MAC address-based access control. Nevertheless, each security feature you add protects your WiFi network a little bit more.