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posted by janrinok on Wednesday June 11 2014, @11:53AM   Printer-friendly
from the whats-in-it-for-them? dept.

Russell Brandom reports that a new feature in iOS 8 is set to cause havoc for location trackers, and score a major win for privacy: When iOS 8 devices look for a connection, iOS 8 will randomize their MAC address, effectively disguising any trace of the real device until it decides to connect to a network. Why are iPhones checking out Wi-Fi networks in disguise? Because there's an entire industry devoted to tracking customers through that signal. Shops from Nordstrom's to JC Penney have tried out a system that automatically logs any phone within Wi-Fi range, giving stores a complete record of who walked into the shop and when. But any phone using iOS 8 will be invisible to the process, potentially calling the whole system into question. "Now that Apple has embraced MAC spoofing, the practice of Wi-Fi sniffing may stop working entirely," says Brandom. "The result is a privacy win for Apple users and a major blow against data marketing and all it took was an automatic update."

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  • (Score: 2) by iwoloschin on Wednesday June 11 2014, @01:56PM

    by iwoloschin (3863) on Wednesday June 11 2014, @01:56PM (#54131)

    I'm not talking legality in terms of government laws (US or otherwise), but more against the governing 802.11 spec? Are you "allowed" to spoof your MAC address? We all know it can be done, otherwise this article wouldn't be here and we'd all have to hand in our nerd cards, but is it explicitly allowed?

    Also, what happens when you have identical MACs show up on one network? I suspect this is unlikely, but it's possible, isn't it?

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Grishnakh on Wednesday June 11 2014, @02:34PM

    by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday June 11 2014, @02:34PM (#54152)

    It's doubtful that this is allowed per the 802.11 spec, however companies break specifications all the time for various reasons. As long as it doesn't completely break things, people usually don't complain much. Spoofing the MAC address while doing SSID scans shouldn't cause any problems technically.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11 2014, @09:19PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11 2014, @09:19PM (#54304)

      802.11 is not some super secret thing, it is just paper. You can look it up. No there is nothing that requires a static MAC.