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Netgear: iOS 14 random MAC addresses could cause ‘Unknown Devices’ issues

What you need to know

  • Netgear has emailed users of its Circle feature that they could see “Unknown Devices” appear on their network.
  • The cause is said to be Apple’s iOS 14 MAC address randomization.

But don’t worry, there’s a workaround.

Netgear has emailed users to warn them that an iOS security feature could be causing them to see “Unknown Devices” appearing on their network. The networking outfit says that the issue could impact users of its Circle parental control feature.

In an email I received today, Netgear says that people might be “seeing a large number of “Unknown Devices” appearing in your Circle device list” and that it “might be caused by a default feature included on devices using iOS 14.”

That feature? iOS 14’s MAC address randomization, a feature that prevents WiFi networks from tracking users based on their address. Traditionally, unique MAC addresses are assigned to individual devices during manufacture, but iOS 14 changes that.

Netgear points out at iOS 14 and Android 10 “enable this default feature to use randomized media access control (MAC) addresses when a device connects to a network to protect users from being tracked while on public hotspots.” But that it seems, is confusing Circle.

Since Circle uses MAC addresses to track devices, the feature also leads to new “Unknown devices” appearing in your Circle device list. So to ensure you can still manage your kids’ iOS 14 or Android 10 devices through the app, please follow these steps to disable the Random MAC / Private MAC Feature for your family’s home WiFi Network only.

So, there you go. If Circle has been warning you about a number of unknown devices popping up on your network, now you know what’s up. And how to fix it, more importantly.

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