iOS 14, Apple’s Next Generation operating system, was released last week to much excitement. Looking past the new widgets, customization options and quality of life features we can finally take a proper look at what we’re really interested in: MAC Address Randomisation!
Apple Support published a ‘Private Wi-Fi Address’ guide upon the release of iOS14 that gives a brief overview of what it is and how to turn it on and off on your various devices. Through the course of this post, we’re going to dig a little deeper and see what this really means when we’re looking to connect to public WiFi networks.
Here’s what we know:
It’s not what we first thought as Cisco UK Jiri Brejcha (@jiribrejcha), points out it’s randomised just enough to protect your privacy whilst not breaking MAC based recognition completely….yet. So, here’s what we know.
When connecting to new WiFi SSID that you have never connected to before (I.e your first time at a hotel) iOS14 devices generate a random MAC address which they use exclusively (and permanently on iOS14) for this SSID.
When connecting to a previously known WiFi network (i.e your home or a hotel you frequent) things are a little different. The first time returning to the venue, users will automatically connect with their actual hardware MAC Address being used. After 24 hours this MAC is changed to a completely Randomised ‘Private’ Address it will then keep this MAC permanently on iOS14.
The potential Impact on HSIA Networks
So what does this mean for hotel networks? Well, for a start, it won’t have much of an impact on new visitors to a venue. They will access the network for the first time and be granted a permanent, private, MAC Address which they can continue using for the duration of their stay and subsequent stays thereafter.
For returning visitors, it gets a little bit more complicated. Once they return to their favourite hotel or venue, they’ll immediately connect as usual, however, after 24 hours of use they’ll seemingly be disconnected and will be required to sign back in due to their MAC Address switching over to the Randomised Address. In theory this will only happen once and the new MAC can be used as an identifier to deliver the same experience for the guest.
We know Apple will switch on full 24hr randomisation sometime between now and Sept 2021, will you hotel be ready?.
So what can be done?
With this update, and the incoming Android 12 update, It’s apparent that existing guest MAC loyalty databases are effectively redundant. With everyone having a brand new MAC Address venues will have to start again. A move over to a Hotspot 2.0 authentication may be the way forward.
Airangel are delighted to be able to offer our customers Next Generation Hotspot authentication. Next Generation Hotspot encompasses Hotspot 2.0 and OpenRoaming to provide a seamless experience for your loyal guests.
Hotspot 2.0 is a turn-key end-to-end solution that gives your guests a frictionless, portal-less, way to access your secure guest network. The guest needs only to download a onetime profile to their device and they’re online. No need to reauthenticate every 5 minutes, and no need to search for the correct SSID, the guest will automatically authenticate as soon as they enter the property.