People in the security world recommend changing the hostname of a computer to something that is not connected to the user. For example: "don't name it: MacbookPro Erica." This way IT staff and 'hackers' have no way to identify him or her. But what about the OS username/account name? Is there anyway a username can be linked to an IP/Device?


I'd say it does not matter. There's two kinds of attacks today:

  • Automated attacks.
    • These will of course not even bother about personal details; they look for extremely weak passwords or known security vulnerabilities.
    • Patching your OS and using secure passwords will probably protect you against automated attacks.
  • Targeted attacks.
    • These may care about who the user is. But if an attacker that is targeting you are able to see your device name, e.g. is on the local network, you've probably lost already.

I would focus on knowing what services are running on the computer, and disable unneeded services, and add a firewall to block incoming traffic. Patch the OS and applications, and keep good passwords.

Tracking a laptop to a person is a fairly easy thing to do if you have network access. Note when they come to work, and look for new devices within that time span. Three-four days should be enough to identify me.

The name will not normally be visible outside the LAN you're connected to.

  • Thanks! But do you think it would be best practice to change the name ? – toom Mar 30 '18 at 11:43
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    I see no strong reasons to do so. – vidarlo Mar 30 '18 at 11:48
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    I could see someone on a shared network like Starbucks or something getting your first name and using it in a social engineering attack... but that's about it. – Adonalsium Mar 30 '18 at 13:26
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    Also if you have to deal with a network attacker, it will be easier for him to identify which one of the available computers on the network belongs to you (if it's a targeted attack). – game0ver Mar 30 '18 at 15:17

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