❰❰Outsmarting Panera's WiFi

by Jesse Herrick

July 31, 2014

Here I am again at Panera — during lunch time. Suddenly, my WiFi shuts off, the login page warns of too much time spent on their WiFi. Well not for me. I have a few tools at my disposal to destroy your WiFi limit.

Just a little disclaimer here: don’t do this unless you’re a regular somewhere or like really need to use their WiFi for more than the alloted time. Alright, let’s go.

So, the first time this happened to me, I was kind of annoyed. I basically live at this Panera (especially during the school year). I just find that I get more work done when I’m not at home, and this is a reasonably nice place. In fact, I’m actually the Foursquare mayor of my Panera.

Jesse’s kind-of-sad/kind-of-awesome mayoral accomplishment aside, let’s get to outsmarting Panera’s WiFi. This also works on any WiFi login, like Starbucks, the airport, et cetera.

The tool I use is called Spoof-MAC, and it does exactly what the name says: it spoofs your MAC address. This works because WiFi login timers track you by your MAC address. This is done because MAC addresses are unique and don’t change because they are built into your hardware. But luckily, we can spoof it with software.

Installation

Prerequisite: Python

$ pip install SpoofMAC

Or

$ easy_install SpoofMac

Or

$ git clone git://github.com/feross/SpoofMAC.git && cd SpoofMAC
$ python setup.py install

Getting Back Online

Now it’s a simple matter of running one command.

# sudo is necessary because it's messing with your network
$ sudo spoof-mac randomize wi-fi

This will shut off your WiFi for a second, but once you log back in to the network, it will think that you are a new device, and allow you access to the network.

If you’re reading this, then you’re probably on a network connection. This method is kind of like a flashlight; you don’t usually need it, but when you do, you better have it. So take my advice and install SpoofMAC now, or you’ll have to walk across the parking lot to FirstWatch, log into their WiFi, download and install the software, then walk back to Panera so that you can get back on the internet. Okay, well maybe that’s just me. But seriously, better safe than sorry, just install it. And if this does help you some day, give it a star on GitHub.

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