What is MAC filtering mode?

Our router has a number of options that we can use to increase security, configure parameters and ultimately customize device settings. There are many features that we can find in the different models we have. One of the most common features found on most modern routers or modems is MAC filtering. In this article, we will explain what it is and what it is for.

What is MAC filtering?

First we need to explain what a MAC address is. By this term we mean a set of alphanumeric characters that serve to identify a device. Check the device model, brand, etc. of each. It has its own number that reflects. This figure identifies the device connecting to the router. It needs to be distinguished from IP address as it is a different term. The router detects the MAC address of all devices connecting to it.

The MAC address is located on every network card. This means that a computer can have more than one address. This is so because it is possible that we have a network card to connect to the router via cable and also another network card to connect via Wi-Fi.

Now, knowing the basic information we have explained, we can now have a rough idea of what MAC filtering is. It basically consists of allowing devices with a specific MAC address to access the router. What we do is tell the router which devices it can allow to connect and which it will block.

Note that we can generally create a whitelist. This means we can configure the router to block all devices except those we have configured. Let’s say we have two computers, three mobile phones and a television with internet access at home. Knowing the MAC address of each allows us to create a whitelist in the router configuration and allow these computers to access the network while blocking others.

Does MAC filtering provide enough security?

Of course, it should also be noted that MAC filtering is not a truly effective security measure. It is true that it can prevent devices from connecting to the router. It can block the connection of other foreign computers, but this may only really work for users who don’t have the necessary knowledge to avoid it.

Therefore, this is not a precaution we should consider if we want to fully protect our router. Instead, we can use it for personal use, for example if we want to block a particular device from connecting. We should not believe that the router will be completely secure by having MAC filtering.

We can consider other better methods to ensure the security of our router. The first and most important thing is always to change the factory settings. This means that we need to change the name, password and credentials of the Wi-Fi network to access the router.

We will also logically need to create a completely secure Wi-Fi key. This password must contain letters (uppercase and lowercase), numbers and other special symbols. This is all completely random.

Additionally, the encryption we will use will be necessary to ensure security. It is important that we avoid outdated encryption such as WEP because this can be exploited by someone with the appropriate knowledge. The type of encryption we use is just as important as the password. We leave you an article where we talk about different types of keys.

Finally, something that many users overlook is that it is very important to update the router correctly. We can update the router firmware and this is highly recommended. Sometimes vulnerabilities arise that hackers can use to carry out attacks. It is the manufacturers themselves who release patches and security updates to fix these problems.

What does MAC filtering do?

We have seen what MAC filtering is and why it is not a measure that really helps improve security. Now we will explain some points why it might be interesting to use it. Another alternative that we have on our router and that we can configure at any time.

Creating a whitelist

One of the uses we can give to MAC filtering is to create a whitelist. This way we can ensure that a certain number of devices can connect to the router without any problems. For example, we can choose our computer, mobile phone and other home devices that we trust and will use to access the internet.

The rest of the computers that try to access the Internet and do not belong to this whitelist will be automatically blocked. Of course, as we mentioned, there are methods that can be used to overcome this block, but at least at the home user level, it will be more than sufficient for those who do not have the necessary knowledge.

Preventing a device from connecting

We can also block a specific device from connecting. Basically what we do is allow anyone to enter our network as long as they enter the password correctly, but a specific MAC address will be blocked. For example, it will be useful if we do not want a web server we connect to access the Internet at a certain time.

Saving internet data

This is especially interesting if we have a 4G Wi-Fi router. We may be using mobile data instead of a broadband connection, which means we may consume the tariff. If we create a plan with MAC addresses that we want to block, we will connect certain devices, such as a computer or mobile phone, and the rest will not have internet, thus saving data.

In this article, we briefly explained what MAC filtering is. We also talked about security and why this is not a precaution we should consider if we really want to protect the router.