Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Would there be any reason not to share once computer serial? Additionally same question regarding a battery serial?

I am developing an online interface in combination with a little daemon running on your computer and right now I am using the serial as part of the url to share your data with others. The data is completely anonymous except for both your battery serial number and computer serial number. Would there be any reason why this would be a bad idea or is this considered bad practice?

Thanks in advance


The program is open source: The online interface can be found here:

It is meant to collect data about how your battery capacity evolves over time.

share|improve this question

closed as off topic by BBlake, EBGreen, Dave M, CharlieRB, haimg Jan 16 '13 at 17:35

Questions on Super User are expected to relate to computer software or computer hardware within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

What if it is not a laptop and has no battery? What if the user buys a new battery? – That Brazilian Guy Jan 16 '13 at 14:48
Hash the serial number. This will not completely eliminate any security issues, but it will help to mitigate them. – EBGreen Jan 16 '13 at 14:56
The only risk that I can think of, and I'm not sure how likely it is, is that the serial number can be resolved to the model in most cases. This means that if there is a known security vulnerability related to the hardware of that model (or more likely the standard bloatware that the manufacturer sells the model with), someone might be able to exploit it. To be honest with you this scenario seems a little far fetched to me but I tend to think in terms of worst case scenarios. – EBGreen Jan 16 '13 at 15:14
@cwoebker - The serial number can be used for many things that only the owner should have access to. There is no reason you need to collect this information, so hash the number, so you mitigate those risks. – Ramhound Jan 16 '13 at 15:17
I will also add that the serial number for the laptop is actually the serial number on the motherboard, so if that gets replaced the serial will change. Just as an FYI. – EBGreen Jan 16 '13 at 16:05
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I think there are two questions to be considered here: privacy and usability.

  • Privacy:

Serial numbers can be, obviously, used as unique identifiers and when it was enabled on Pentium processors a long time ago, things didn't went well:

From wikipedia:

The Pentium III was the first x86 CPU to include a unique, retrievable, identification number, called PSN (Processor Serial Number). A Pentium III's PSN can be read by software through the CPUID instruction if this feature has not been disabled through the BIOS.

On November 29, 1999, the Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel of the European Parliament, following their report on electronic surveillance techniques asked parliamentary committee members to consider legal measures that would "prevent these chips from being installed in the computers of European citizens."[13]

Eventually Intel decided to remove the PSN feature on Tualatin-based Pentium IIIs, and the feature was not carried through to the Pentium 4 or Pentium M. The feature does not exist in modern Intel x86 CPUs.

As @EbGreen pointed, you can use hashing or some other transformation to deal with storing and sharing hardware serial numbers.

  • Usability:

I'm not sure on what you call "computer serial number". If it depends on itens such as drivers, kernels, video cards, network cards and other items that can be removed or upgraded, then whenever the user does this, I suppose he/she would have to re-register or reconfigure your software, that is anti-friendly. Same thing applies to batteries. (If the computer serial will be coming from the motherboard, it is less of an issue, but motherboards can be upgraded too, although less frequently).

Note: While I was writing this answer, the OP made a comment about the software being "meant to collect data about how your battery capacity evolves over time", so it means there has to be a battery, and if the baterry is changed, the user would actually be interested in adjusting the data, so my second point is less of an issue.

share|improve this answer
This helps. Thanks for the answer. – cwoebker Jan 16 '13 at 15:10

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.