To give context, I'm not too familiar with computers an IT terminology, so please excuse my mistakes.

I work in a building where they provide guest Wi-Fi. Before you log in, you have to sign their terms and conditions (don't do illegal stuff, etc.). I did go on a "bad site" on my cell phone and saw that it was blocked. Can this be traced back to me?

I've done my research and read into MAC addresses linked to cell phone hardware. Does that mean an IT administrator would be able to trace it back to me personally or would they just see that "someone" tried to access a blocked site?

I'm worried I could get in trouble for what I have done.

  • A network admin isn't going to investigate every insult if they've got more interesting things to do, they'll either have to get board or you'll likely have to try harder to get their attention... though, if the network is blocking content then more than likely you've generated a larger log footprint by getting blocked. Questions to keep in mind; how often did you use the network prior (legitimately), how many other users also regularly use the network, and of those how many are likely exploring filter gaps?... your activity could have rolled-off the log stack because of other users. – S0AndS0 May 17 at 16:08
  • Were you logged in with your corporate ID? Or did you simply have to tap "I accept" to access the internet? If it's the latter, it's very unlikely they'll bother trying to tie a MAC address to an employee for such a minor violation. – Kevin Mirsky May 17 at 19:41
  • It was the the latter there is no corporate ID you just have to hit accept to sign in and there you go your in. Thanks for the answer best one I've gotten so far my last question to you would be what information can they get from a mac adress? Would a mac adress tell who I am like first and last name etc....my phone name is just Samsung galaxy s9 if that helps so it doesnt say my name on the device but I was wondering if by them having my mac adress could they really track it back to me and how long would that take – miche May 17 at 21:38

As @MechMK1 stated, YES you can and will be tracked. The domain you connected too will be visible in clear text and can be traced back to the specific device you where using.

On top of this, in order to be on the corporate network your phone has to request an IP address via DHCP. This DHCP request requires a MAC address which is physically burnt onto your phone.

A MAC address is unique to your devices manufacturer as well as to your specific device. If you did something illegal enough to subpoena the manufacture they could look up who the device was sold to ... which would trace back to you.

This applies to ANY network you connect to the internet on WIFI or Wired (depending on there level of logging).

  • Is porn considered something illegal also my friend sent me a link to a bestgore website I clicked on btw will never do that again so I went to those two sites is that considered illegal or no not sure if you would know but just wondering if a network administrator or guy would consider this something to subpoena – miche May 17 at 16:44
  • 2
    Questions about what is/is not illegal are beyond the scope of this site. – schroeder May 17 at 16:58
  • @miche your prob fine, unless your not in which case there is nothing you can really do about it now. IMO, don't loose sleep about it, however, you should be more careful in the future. – CaffeineAddiction May 20 at 19:32
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. – MechMK1 May 24 at 14:47

Yes, the company will know what sites you accessed. Depending on whether or not the site used HTTPS, the company may only see which host you connected to instead of the full content, but even this information might be enough.

If I saw a device connecting to https://example.com, then I can imagine what is happening, even if I don't see the content.

As for whether or not it can be traced back to you, yes, it is technically possible. If they will attempt to trace it back to you is a completely different question. A bored sysadmin might check through the logs to see if your device has connected before, and attempt to play detective, but this is starting to drift into the world of speculation.

If, however, your offense began to leave the realm of "indecency" and stated becoming the basis for a criminal investigation, then it most likely will be traced back to you.

I personally don't believe that you would realistically get in trouble for it. The most realistic scenario is that the sysadmin knows that you are doing things during work which you shouldn't do, and might joke about you at lunch break.

  • First off thanks for the answer to my question and not being rude and being professional ....I did have a follow up question so the site I visited was https but my main question is would they be able to trace my cell phone and like find out who I am I used a cell phone to log in to the guest wifi would they say be able to see if was a sprint phone and my name attached to the account? – miche May 17 at 15:04
  • I edited my question to clarify this. The initial question was hard to read due to the formatting, so I rewrote it and clarified my answer. – MechMK1 May 17 at 15:07
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    "can be traced" is not changed by how big the offense was. Chances of it being traced might be. Unless the admin was simply curious, and then the admin might do a deep dive into the logs. That happens a lot. – schroeder May 17 at 17:01
  • If he decides to dive deep into the logs would they be able to know my name by my mac adress or my phone company and figure out who I was ? Some people on here are saying yes and some saying no I'm confused as to basically how they could and if they could actually find me and say hey you did this...or would they have to have my phone to verify it's my mac adress – miche May 17 at 21:40
  • The company can potentially match your MAC address to you by collating your activity with other information that they know about you (e.g., if you take a day off, they can eliminate all active MAC addresses from consideration). Any sites you access can potentially be issued a subpoena to indicate which account information was used to access their system using the company's IP. A VPN (or TOR) often disrupts this sort of tracking, but such companies may be cooperate (willingly or due to court order). Investigators often use parallel construction to ensure that such sources remain reputable. – Brian May 23 at 13:16

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