iOS 14 and watchOS 7 Brings MAC Address Randomization to iPhone and Apple Watch

BY Rajesh Pandey

Published 20 Jul 2020

With iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and watchOS 7, Apple will randomize the MAC address of your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch every time you connect it to a new Wi-Fi network. This will help in further protecting your privacy as network operators will not be able to associate a specific MAC address to your device and then keep track of its internet activity or do any kind of device profiling.

Whenever a device joins a Wi-Fi network, it is identified on that network using its MAC (Media Access Control) address. Anyone with the right set of tools can observe the network activity and location of a device if the same MAC address is used continuously, even across Wi-Fi networks. This is where having a random MAC address is beneficial since a new MAC address is generated every time the device connects to a Wi-Fi network which makes network profiling and location tracking extremely difficult.

To reduce this privacy risk, iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and watchOS 7 include a feature that periodically changes the MAC address your device uses with each Wi-Fi network. This randomized MAC address is your device’s private Wi-Fi address for that network—until the next time it joins with a different address.

Some Wi-Fi routers might not work properly with random MAC addresses or some people might want to assign a static MAC address to their iPhone or iPad. For this, Apple is including an option to turn off the generation of a random MAC address on a per-Wi-Fi network basis as well.

Device profiling over a network is actually very common so the introduction of random MAC addresses in iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and watchOS 7 is a major step from Apple to further protect the privacy of iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch owners.

[Via 512Pixels]