IP and MAC address question!

TheOne asked 2 years ago

If I am connected to the internet and I use tor on my pc to access the net. I know the sites I access can't see my real IP and my internet provider can't see the sites I'm accessing. However can those sites see the MAC address of my PC or router or both?

Isn't the MAC address only used by the router to route the incoming packets to the right PC?

When one requests a page/site(without using tor) is the MAC address sent in the header of the frame as well over the net to the destination website or not?

3 Answers
Kyonz answered 2 years ago

Hi there TheOne, I only registered to give you an answer because misinformation is a nasty thing.

"If I am connected to the internet and I use tor on my pc to access the net. I know the sites I access can't see my real IP and my internet provider can't see the sites I'm accessing. However can those sites see the MAC address of my PC or router or both?"

This is incorrect, your IP address is shown on all connections that you make unless you go through some form of anonymous proxy. IP addressing is used for all communications on the internet and any site can see what your IP is and your provider could definitely see what you were accessing if they wanted to.

In regards to your MAC address nothing could see this, MAC addressing is used to transmit data between devices on the same segment (from 1 device to another in a direct path). So your computer talking to your router uses MAC addressing, then your router talking to your ISP uses it, etc etc.

Isn't the MAC address only used by the router to route the incoming packets to the right PC?

-Actually PAT (port address translation) is used to do this, an open connection is initiated on a certain port and all traffic back through that port is routed. Basically your computer opens the tunnel and all traffic to and from go via it this is via IP and not MAC addressing.

When one requests a page/site(without using tor) is the MAC address sent in the header of the frame as well over the net to the destination website or not?

-MAC address will always be in the header of the frame (Tor or not) but this is between devices on the same segment, as a packet moves from device to device the MAC address field changes. IP addressing is what is used for packets to navigate the internet not MAC addressing.

I hope this clarifies some of the confusion you are having regarding addressing.

aprotosimaki answered 2 years ago

"If I am connected to the internet and I use tor on my pc to access the net. I know the sites I access can't see my real IP and my internet provider can't see the sites I'm accessing."

They can determine that you are using TOR but they will not know which sites you are accessing using TOR. So you are correct.

"However can those sites see the MAC address of my PC or router or both?"

No, the remote site has no idea of your MAC address.

"Isn't the MAC address only used by the router to route the incoming packets to the right PC?"

This is essentially correct. Basically the router knows it has a packet destined for, say, the machine at 192.168.1.5 so it consults its arp cache to determine that machine's MAC address. Once that is determined, it constructs an ethernet frame using that MAC address as its destination MAC and puts in on the wire.

"When one requests a page/site(without using tor) is the MAC address sent in the header of the frame as well over the net to the destination website or not?"

No it is not; the MAC address in the frame will have the source MAC address of the last router that routed the packet to that remote site, not your MAC address.

TheOne answered 2 years ago

Thank you for all these generous replies. I guess I was right all along thinking my router couldn't possibly send my MAC all the way to the destination source since the packets will/may have to make so many hops before they reach their final destination.

While we are on the subject of networking, I will confess that I'm an IT student. I would like to get my CCENT and eventually CCNA from cisco in the next few months. Can any of you professionals in the industry tell me if it'll be worth it? That is of course on top of the other required classes that I have to take.

PS. I'm taking a java class right now and I hate it. Is java a big deal to know well as an IT guy?

thanks all!

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