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The apartment I using for my internship uses a password based on its MAC address, and I'm not allowed to change it. Should I be concerned that someone can steal my network traffic?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Yes, the MAC address is transmitted. You can use a WLAN sniffer like Kismet to retrieve it. And yes, this is unrelated to the setting whether the SSID is broadcasted in beacon frame or not.

So yes, you are right if you're concerned about your WLAN security. Anyone in range could get the MAC address and therefore it's usually also possible to know the WLAN router brand (maybe even the type). So if the encryption key is based on the MAC by default on these devices somebody could easily guess the key. Even worse, having the shared secret (shared key) it's also possible to sniff packets from other WLAN clients and decrypt them. So you should be concerned about security of all data sent/received by the WLAN AP as well.

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@SkyBeam is very correct. In this case, since you are not the network administrator, it is the responsibility of the system administrator to secure the data. If you are still concerned that your traffic may be sniffed, consider using a layer of VPN with reasonable encryption on top of that.

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