Apple is going to implement random MAC addresses technology in its iOS8 devices, an anonymity-granting technique which late computer prodigy Aaron Swartz was accused of using to carry out his infamous MIT hack.
Swartz, who faced criminal prosecution on charges of mass downloading academic documents and articles, was also accused of using MAC (Media Access Control) spoofing address technology to gain access to MIT’s subscription database.
At the time of his suicide at the age 26, Swartz was facing up to 35 years in prison, the confiscation of assets and a $1 million fine on various charges.
Now computer giant Apple is installing a MAC address randomizing system into its products. The company announced that in its new iOS 8, Wi-Fi scanning behavior will be “changed to use random, locally administered MAC addresses.”
MAC-address is a unique identifier used by network adapters to identify themselves on a network, and changing it could be regarded as an anti-tracking measure.
David Seaman, journalist and podcast host of “The DL Show,” told RT that a single technology cannot protect users from being spied upon and advised users to trust no one, particularly the companies that have been caught cooperating with agencies such as the NSA, or those who used to turn a blind eye toward governments’ illegal activities.
RT: Why is Apple suddenly becoming interested in boosting the privacy protection of its devices by spoofing MAC-addresses?
David Seaman: That’s one of the techniques that Apple has adopted to spoof these MAC-addresses and it’s just another step to make smart phones and other devices, other mobile devices a bit more secure. Of course you have to keep in mind that a smart phone is to begin with not all that secure, because there are so many different application developers, as well as the fact that you have to rely on whatever cell phone company is providing you with a signal. So this definitely doesn’t make phones completely secure, but I think it’s a step in the right direction.
RT: Some argue that Apple’s attempt to protect the privacy of its users is pretty much useless because there are many ways to see where the device is. Do you agree that what they are trying to give us is perhaps not really the full picture?
DS: There are a number of other hardware identifiers, aside from the MAC-address that your cell phone is still emitting, and which, using cell towers, they can still find your exact location. So this definitely doesn’t restore total privacy to the user, it’s just one band aid. And I think if you’re injured, you should use as many band aids as possible.
But there’s also a larger thing here which is that governments are spying on us and these cell phones are not designed to be all that secure from day one. And there are a number of private companies that, I wouldn’t say spying, but eavesdropping on what you’re doing to make money out of you. And this is a growing problem as we spend more and more of our lives online and on our phones and we expect these things to be secure. Continue reading…