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MAC Binding for Security of User Accounts, Says Administration

In a potential hit to account-sharing between students, I-ON, the college’s Wi-Fi service provider, announced a MAC binding policy that would limit an account to three devices. Users received an SMS on 11th January that informed them that from 2019, every I-ON account would be accessible on three registered devices only.

A Media Access Control (MAC) address is essentially an identifier that is unique to a device. Unlike an IP address, that identifies the connection of a device on a network, a MAC address identifies the actual physical hardware, and thereby the device, that’s connecting to a network. Under the new system, the MAC addresses of the first three devices that are used to log in to an account would be captured, and further access would be restricted to these devices only.

The SMS sent to users

With widely-varying internet requirements, sharing of I-ON login accounts is a common practice among the populace, with the heavy users requiring more than the allotted 30 GB per month. The new limit would curb this practice to an extent. However, a mitigating factor is that accounts being used by those other than the registered users aren’t being used by those registered users in a lot of cases. The move will also mean students can’t make use of the Windows hardware address randomization option, which presents a random MAC address so as to make tracking location more difficult, although this is not an issue of much importance to the average college user.

“With numerous complaints from students stating that their passwords have been compromised and data has been used, we have introduced this policy to ensure better management. This is a security policy for the convenience of the users. We are open to feedback and any changes will be conveyed to the ION team by me. Students can reset their MAC devices at the ION helpdesk,” said Sathish Kamath, Assistant Director-IT.

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