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I was connected to the Internet in a coffeeshop earlier today, but I was only allowed 30 minutes of access. I tried deleting my cookies after my time was up (though admittedly I didn't delete my Flash cookies -- would that have solved the problem?), but the connection still recognized that I'd already used 30 minutes, so I couldn't connect again.

How did the connection recognize me still? The wireless was unprotected (no code or password), it just had a portal you had to pass through upon the initial connection.

I'm not terribly familiar with web development or computer networks, so just trying to get a better idea of what's happening (and possibly to know what to do next time I use up my minutes =)).

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migrated from stackoverflow.com May 28 '10 at 3:07

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1 Answer

I'm guessing it remembered your MAC address. While it is possible to fake this (and therefore change it regularly to appear to be a different device), most people wouldn't have a clue how to do this and it's therefore as good a method as any to uniquely identify computers on the local domain.

Be warned though: there are techniques for detecting MAC address spoofing, and since it's so obviously a deliberate attempt to get around their conditions of use, you may find yourself at the wrong end of a milk steamer. (Well, the right end of the steamer...)

(Also, the most obvious method to detect someone gaming the system is not through magical MAC spoofing detection, but simply through, say, a staff member noticing that you've been tapping away for 45 minutes.)

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lol liked your joke at the end. –  gmatt May 27 '10 at 1:35
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Coffee shop staff can be fearsome when roused. Distract them with complaints about the biscotti not being fruity enough and run the other way. –  detly May 27 '10 at 1:38
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