Network Logging ?


Hope this is a reasonable place to ask this question. Please point in right direction if not.

Scenario: Assume a regular-Joe wireless laptop user enters some establishment or other which offers freebie wireless Internet connectivity, which he then uses.

What I'd like to know is:

a) Is there any way that whomever is providing the connectivity can - at any point - somehow log any of the software or hardware details of the connecting laptop, in such a way as to be able to uniquely identify the laptop (eg. Windows username, network card info, hard drive serial number, etc, etc) at some future point?

b) I'm guessing this next question would depend on the individual setup of the network, but, assuming the same scenario, would each user on the network generally get the same external IP, or would they likely be different?

Many thanks, Sam

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Yes. MAC address logging is trivial, and often a standard feature of the wireless access point or router. This will uniquely identify the network adapter in the laptop.

Most providers of free wireless internet service will use a NAT router. All users will get the same external IP.

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Okay ... That's really useful to know - many thanks!


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superman183 hath wroth:

Yes. Client MAC addresses are easily displayed, along with what web sites they're using. Even if the wireless is encrypted, the MAC addresses are visible and are NOT encrypted. The level of logging is usually MAC address versus usage (traffic) so as to catch file sharing and illegal downloading activities which usually suck huge amounts of bandwidth.


There are plenty of others.

The way NAT works is that everything, on the internet side, coming from the wireless router looks like it's coming from one IP address. To answer the next obvious question, no... your MAC address is not visible on the internet side. Therefore, whatever illegal activity you were planning on perpetrating will be clearly identifiable and visible by the local router logs, but not necessarily by any subsequent logging done by the ISP or your intended victim. All that would show is that it came from a specific coffee shop. This is why theoretical liability issues for your actions, while running an open wireless hotspot, are potentially a problem for hotspot owners.

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