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On my first attempt with tails, my home router failed to provide an IP address via DHCP because TAILS randomized the MAC. In my further attempts I disabled the MAC randomization feature, wondering: Will anybody on the other side of my router see the MAC address (unless some software puts it inside some data packet)? So what is the use of MAC randomization in TAILS?

(I see that it would make sense when being used not at home)

  • Are you running it in a virtual machine? Some virtual machine hosts will prevent you from spoofing a MAC address. Hyper-V for example prevents you from spoofing MAC addresses unless you enable it in the VM settings. – user Feb 26 at 17:16
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What does a MAC address say? It says: I am X kind of device made by Y brand and here is my unique number Z. These are things that you might want to hide if you are using a device on a public wifi. Being that the MAC address should be unique, it inherently fingerprintable.

If you never take that device out of your house, is this an issue? Not really. It's more of a considerable in public.

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  • Today I read "Other considerations" in tails.boum.org/doc/first_steps/startup_options/mac_spoofing/…; it says: "While using Wi-Fi, anybody within range of your Wi-Fi interface can see your MAC address, even without being connected to the same Wi-Fi access point.". However I don't know whether this is true for WPA protected WLANs, though. – U. Windl Jan 28 at 20:51
  • I think you're right. When you are using unencrpted wifi, you an just pull the unencrypted packets out of the air which includes your mac address. Another option would be to always use MAC randomization but when you are at home, set Tails to use a static IP. For example, if 192.168.1.100/24 is in your IP range and not being used by any other machine, then tell Tails to always use it and not use one from DHCP. You can probably tell your router that is a dedicated IP and not to give it to anyone. At least that's how I do it with my cheap router from my ISP. – JSEvans Jan 28 at 22:42

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