Does Windows perform randomized SCANS when searching for Wi-Fi/Bluetooth Access Points?

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My Android mobile phone now defaults to some kind of MAC randomization. It's damn annoying. If I forget of disable it none of the public Wi-Fi access points I use will let me use them without re-registering every time. I don't fully understand what it's doing though, because my own home Wi-Fi manages to give it the same IP address every time.

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Brian Gregory

Brian Gregory used his or her keyboard to write :

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The phone should remember per-SSID which random MAC it previously used (or whether it used its hardware MAC) are you telling it to forget the SSIDs after you use them ... some earlier firmware *did* use random every time and they stopped for the reason you describe.

Reply to
Andy Burns

Is "scanning" a listen-only activity?

Reply to
Andy Burns

This specific answer above is better discussed on the Android newsgroup, but the latest Android versions do _both_ (it's two separate settings).

  1. By default, the MAC is randomized _per SSID_ (probably per BSSID)
  2. In Developer options, you can set randomization per connection.
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    Random on every connect

I'm not sure what MAC Windows uses for _scanning_ though. *Which is why this thread was opened to find out.*

There are multiple scenarios to consider for the scanning question.

  1. scanning for known ssids that are hidden
  2. scanning for known ssids that are not hidden
  3. scanning for unknown ssids that are not hidden
  4. any others?

How does Windows handle the randomization when scanning? (Note: How Apple does it for iOS is referenced in the sig.)

Reply to
Andy Burnelli

I get where you're coming from, which is that passive listening shouldn't be a privacy problem but there's got to be a privacy issue to be resolved (whether or not Windows resolves it) because _both_ Apple (for iOS) and Google (for Android) implemented randomized randomization (AFAIK).

I just don't know what Windows does when scanning for hidden access points.

Here's a link for Apple's implementation of randomizing MACs for scans.

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I also know what Android uses for _connecting_ to a Wi-Fi access point.

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Random MAC on every connect

But I am not quite sure what Wi-Fi MAC address is used while _scanning_ for Wi-Fi (or Bluetooth) access points (or for _connecting_ to Bluetooth APs.)

But that's only background because the question here is what Windows randomizes when Windows actively scans (probes?) for Wi-Fi access points.

Specifically hidden access points. If I knew how Windows handles these scenarios, I wouldn't be asking. :)

Some scenarios I can think of where Windows might randomize might be: a. When scanning for hidden access points Windows is aware of b. When scanning for not hidden access points Windows is aware of c. When scanning for access points that are not hidden d. Any others?

Note: Scanning may be tantamount to probing (but I'm not sure so I added the wireless folks who can clarify if scanning is different from probing).

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