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Coca-Cola Reserves a Massive Range of MAC Addresses 371

Posted by timothy
from the maytag-and-starbucks-champing-at-bit dept.
An anonymous reader writes "GNU MacChanger's developer has found by chance that The Coca-Cola company got a range of MAC addresses allocated at the OUI, the IEEE Registration Authority in charge of managing the MAC addresses spectrum. What would Coca-Cola want around 16 million MAC addresses reserved? What are they planning to use them for? Could this part of a strategy around the Internet-of-things concept?"
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Coca-Cola Reserves a Massive Range of MAC Addresses

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  • Not cans (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shatrat (855151) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @01:17PM (#45847077)

    Vertically integrated vending machines?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gstoddart (321705)

      Or, security/privacy problems waiting to as the vending machines are integrated with a ridiculous amount of things (and with zero consideration for security).

      Think social media campaigns and other things which want you to "check-in" with your phone at the soda machine.

      And I'm sure the ones I'm seeing with credit-card readers are all super secure too.

      • Re:Not cans (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 02, 2014 @01:39PM (#45847363)

        Then put your dollar bills into the machine and never worry. Banks pay for credit card breaches, not consumers. You may argue that we do so indirectly with higher fees, but not really. Fraud is a few billion dollars, but the fees they collect cover that without hassle. And since the swipe fees are money they collect at no actual cost--there's no product to produce, no actual expenses per transaction (merely a distribution of the fixed costs of maintaining the network)--they just don't worry about fraud. When you make money from air, losses aren't terribly bad.

        I've had my credit card number stolen a couple times. As long as the thieves only get your number and not your actual identity (and the card info is all they will get from breach at a POS), it's merely inconvenient. The biggest hassles are setting up all the automatic payments again and learning a new number. I have a couple cards and if I'm somewhere I worry about the system's integrity, I use the card that doesn't have any autopayments associated with it. Then if it does get stolen, there's absolutely no hassle outside of a two phone calls to the issuer: one to report it, and one to activate the new card.

        The bank doesn't care about losses, so I'm not terribly worried about it either. Of course, users of debit cards have a LOT more hassle, but that is their choice to use that financial product. If they learn to trust themselves use credit cards responsibly and pay off the bill each month, then they can enjoy these same benefits.

        • Re:Not cans (Score:5, Interesting)

          by asliarun (636603) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @01:48PM (#45847501)

          On a slightly related note, there is a very nice Microsoft Research paper on password theft and bank fraud, and who actually gets affected.
          I will admit that most of what I actually thought of this subject was quite wrong.

          Linkage: http://research.microsoft.com/pubs/161829/EverythingWeKnow.pdf [microsoft.com]

        • Re:Not cans (Score:4, Insightful)

          by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @02:07PM (#45847727)

          Then put your dollar bills into the machine and never worry.

          [rant]

          For Christ's sake USA, get rid of the dollar bill already. There's nothing more freaking frustrating that trying to feed *paper* money into a vending machine - Especially crumbled torn and dirty American singles. I don't know what on earth you print your nearly-monochrome money onto but man it sure doesn't survive well... Get some $1 and $2 coins into circulation and make your smallest paper bill a five.

          [/rant]

          • Re:Not cans (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Bengie (1121981) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @02:19PM (#45847871)
            Where do you put $1 coins when at the strip club?
          • They tried. They minted a bunch of $1 coins and no one wants them. There is about 1 to 2 billion dollars worth of unused dollar coins at the federal reserve.
            • by fnj (64210)

              I realize utterly brainless is a necessary qualification for serving in government, but it passes belief how stupid the guys in charge of currency are. Make a HELL OF A LOT more than a few billion dollar coins and simultaneously STOP MAKING NEW GODDAM DOLLAR BILLS. The old bills will rapidly turn to garbage and fade out of circulation. If some bird brains want to horde a few, fine; they won't evaporate in storage; but soon it will be good luck finding a vending machine that will take them, or a clerk dumb e

          • I haven't had a problem with paper bills in modern vending machines. Maybe you're just bad at figuring at which way is up?

            As for coins, they're a pain in the ass to carry around more than two or three. We've had dollar coins for many years, and there's a reason they never caught on. I'd much rather skip the vending machine and not carry any singles than have to carry around coins.

          • by dunezone (899268)
            The United States has tried to replace the $1 bill on several occasions. The problem is that replacing the dollar doesn't solve any problem to the individual. Its not like people grab a bunch of dollar bills from their pockets and say, "Oh geez, I wish these were coins!".
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by CTU (1844100)

            But I can't keep dollar coins in my wallet and hate loose coins in my pocket

          • by sl4shd0rk (755837)

            Get some $1 and $2 coins into circulation

            You must jingle a lot when you pull your pants up.

          • by Tokolosh (1256448)

            Actually, they will be replaced by bitcoins.

          • Bills are great because then I only need one money-handling strategy (I give the smaller coins to homeless people). If they have dollar coins, I'll need to deal with paper and coins. That's annoying.
          • Re:Not cans (Score:4, Interesting)

            by icebike (68054) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @04:40PM (#45849623)

            Then put your dollar bills into the machine and never worry.

            [rant]

            For Christ's sake USA, get rid of the dollar bill already. There's nothing more freaking frustrating that trying to feed *paper* money into a vending machine - Especially crumbled torn and dirty American singles. I don't know what on earth you print your nearly-monochrome money onto but man it sure doesn't survive well... Get some $1 and $2 coins into circulation and make your smallest paper bill a five.
              [/rant]

            Nobody wants dollar coins. Its been tried and died a dozen times in the US.

            Seems even Canadians, once fooled, are twice shy about converting paper to coins [wikipedia.org]:

            In 2005, the Canadian government polled its citizens on the idea of retiring the five-dollar note, replacing it with a five-dollar coin. The money saved in making the coin would then fund the Canadian Olympic team. Canadians resoundingly rejected and ridiculed the idea of a five-dollar coin.

            Paper folds. Its in a wallet without jingling and bulging.

            And vending machines are very good at accepting even the filthiest of bills, because the vending companies have learned that accepting anything close is better than getting people in the habit of avoiding the machine. Especially when selling a product that costs less than the bottle it is sold in.

        • by cayenne8 (626475) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @02:15PM (#45847829) Homepage Journal
          This is for a new ad campaign, and I can hear the new jingle now:

          "I'd like to teach the world to ping...in perfect harmony...."

        • Re:Not cans (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Penguinisto (415985) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @02:50PM (#45848285) Journal

          Banks pay for credit card breaches, not consumers

          Like any other business, you, the consumer, eventually do pay for them - in higher (and newer, more devious) fees, lower savings/CD interest rates, and higher loan interest rates.

          Don't fool yourself into thinking that you;re getting a free ride.

          • by Dogtanian (588974)

            Banks pay for credit card breaches, not consumers

            Like any other business, you, the consumer, eventually do pay for them - in higher (and newer, more devious) fees, lower savings/CD interest rates, and higher loan interest rates.

            Don't fool yourself into thinking that you;re getting a free ride.

            And don't believe that old fallacy that it's the banks that pick up the tab either- as pointed out here [slashdot.org], it's the retailer that almost always has to pick up the tab in such cases.

            The banks simply yank back any fraudulent transactions and leave the business out of pocket- not them. This is why banks- in the UK at least- do not give a fuck about individual instances of credit card theft and fraud. They're not the ones having to pay for it.

            If you're a retailer who knows with near-certainty that a credit card h

    • This, and most likely on numerous private cellular APN's from different carriers.
      And for God's sake, stop using that stupid Internet-of-things buzzword.
    • yep vending machines (Score:5, Interesting)

      by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobal @ g m a i l.com> on Thursday January 02, 2014 @01:23PM (#45847199) Homepage Journal

      It's for wireless enabled purchases at vending machines.

      I did an RFP for this in grad school. In our scenario the beverage company was working with AT&T to enable the wireless internet connection.

      They'll probably "partner" with other vendors of consumer goods...whatever the marketing people come up with.

      • I think it allows a central inventory management office to track the inventory in each vending machine, and setting automatic alerts when certain vending machines need to be refilled. The vending machine having its own IP helps in that it is uniquely addressable and all the inventory data it has, as well as any cash/payments made to it could be tracked, and more effective planning made possible.

        16M addresses? This is particularly these types of uses that justify IPv6. With IPv6, Coke could get itself a

        • by Bigbutt (65939)

          MAC addresses, not IPs. They may actually be going to use IPv6. That's not part of the article.

          [John]

      • by ahabswhale (1189519) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @02:17PM (#45847853)

        I believe it's for more than just vending machines. The new computerized soda fountains that have been popping up in various fast food restaurants all report back to the mother ship as well.

        • by JWSmythe (446288)

          Ya, I was thinking vending machines, fountain dispensers, company owned coolers in retail establishments, and even store shelves. They can (and do) have a lot of hardware out there that can't be monitored remotely. It would be very advantageous if they could know that a machine is or isn't working, what the stock is like, and know immediately what the sales are like.

          Right now, they lose a lot of money from vending machines that aren't fully stocked. I'm sure just about everyone has gone to a store and

          • by bws111 (1216812) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @03:33PM (#45848761)

            Fountains are a good bet. For instance, a certain large, well-known company that owns theme parks and resorts has recently added RFID chips to the soda cups they sell. When you go to a self-service fountain, the fountain checks if the cup is allowed to be filled. They check to see if the cup is from this location, if it is within an allowed 'free refill' time, and if it is being used too often (you must wait a few minutes before it can be refilled). No more buying a single cup and walking around all day getting 'free refills'. No more buying a single cup then giving all 8 kids a soda by pouring from the purchased cup into your own cup over and over.

      • by jovius (974690)

        I bought bottles of coke from Coca-Cola vending machines with SMS more than 10 years ago already (in Finland). In the last couple of years they've been rolling out special apps to be used with vending machines; or at least for random snack kind of setups. The phone-home -functionality has most likely existed as long... Sounds like they are about to modernize things globally.

    • Agree, vending machines that act as a kiosk and/or take debit/credit cards as well as cash.

    • It's an obvious guess that these are for NIC cards to be used in some type of vending and/or dispensing machine. What I'm wondering is why is Coca-Cola designing their own cards? Do they really have a use for these that commodity cards can't accommodate?

  • by barlevg (2111272) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @01:19PM (#45847111)
    If you figure there's one Coke vending machine per 100 people, that's 3 million Coke machines in the US alone. So certainly the scale (if we extend to worldwide) is about right.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 02, 2014 @01:21PM (#45847143)

    Or maybe vending machines. Also, vending machines.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      vending machines....there's got to be a use for the unsold ARM processors that were intended for last year's tablets.

    • Chekov would call it a nuclear wending machine.
  • Coca-Cola owns a lot of vending machines and their new computerized cola fountain is pretty cool too. I see this as a natural progression towards automatically sending in refill and service requests.
  • by HighOrbit (631451) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @01:22PM (#45847157)
    As another commenter noted, vending machines are probably part of it. I was also thinking maybe they have plans for a store-shelf inventory control system to help their distributors know when the local supermarket or convience store needs a delivery.
  • Coke builds own NIC in machines. Full stop.

    • by DigiShaman (671371) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @01:46PM (#45847463) Homepage

      That's not what happens. MAC addresses are assigned to vendors that implement products with network hardware, not just the development and manufacture. For example: I can look up any MAC address and see it belonging to Dell, Apple, Linksys, DLink, Netgear, and so on. The first two don't design and fab their own NICs. They use Broadcom, Intel, Marvell, and Realtek chips.

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      I can understand why they would want to put a NIC in a vending machine. However, I can't understand for the life of me why they would want to build their own NICs. That's something that would ideally be outsourced to another company. Even if you're talking millions of vending machines, it doesn't sense for a cola company to start making their own NICs. They'll probably still outsource the actual NIC construction and just get the manufacturer to use their MAC addresses. Still don't see a point though. S
  • by nyet (19118) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @01:23PM (#45847179) Homepage

    From the start, OUIs were 3 out of 6 bytes long.

  • by nadamucho (1063238) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @01:26PM (#45847233)
    They were allocated a single 3-byte OUI, or prefix. When you realize that 16 million OUIs were originally available, it's like making a big deal that a company was granted a /24 IP range.
  • Or, you know, it could be the blatantly obvious answer of "vending machines." But where's the headline in that?

    • Careful. You might get a cease and desist letter from Disney. I'm sure they own "Evil plan to TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!!" and probably have for quite some time.
  • by necro81 (917438) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @01:33PM (#45847305) Journal
    Coke is rolling out their Freestyle [coca-colafreestyle.com] fountain dispensing machines worldwide. Each one has the ability to phone home about inventory levels, maintenance logs, and what drinks are trending where. Coke doesn't do anything small - everything they do is done on a global scale. There are 100,000 - 200,000 fast food restaurants in the United States alone. It doesn't take much imagination to see how that could scale up to 16 million machines worldwide over the product life cycle.
  • by Tom (822)

    ...maybe they just have an engineer who convinced them to be early this time. If you had got a class A network back when they were basically given to anyone who so much as asked, you know?

  • "Massive range"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sootman (158191) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @01:33PM (#45847309) Homepage Journal

    "The original IEEE 802 MAC address comes from the original Xerox Ethernet addressing scheme. This 48-bit address space contains potentially 2^48 or 281,474,976,710,656 possible MAC addresses."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MAC_address [wikipedia.org]

    2^48 / 2^24 = 2^24 so OMG NOES they're getting one-sixteen-millionth of the available space!

    If 16 million other companies do this we're TOTALLY SCREWED!

    (Unless I did my math wrong or there are other things I'm unaware of, which is totally possible. I'm sure someone who actually knows about networking will either correct me, or confirm that this is a total non-story. If they wanted 16M IPv4 addresses this would be a little different.)

    • by Andy Dodd (701)

      Another way of looking at it: This is the smallest possible address range you can obtain, since OUIs are 3 bytes.

    • If 16 million other companies do this we're TOTALLY SCREWED!

      If 16 million other companies do this, then we still have enough for 777,000 more companies. And these should really be for some kind of manufacturers. Like Apple or HP or Dell might have gone through a few dozen of these, but not much more unless they were careless.

    • by Shimbo (100005)

      There is the local/global bit and the multicast bit, so it's more like 4 million other companies. However, you are essentially correct.

  • by Shimbo (100005) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @01:34PM (#45847321)

    So, Coca-Cola went and spent $665 dollars for a single block. This is not news.

  • MAC addresses are the new BitCoins. Buy 'em up while they're cheap!

  • How much does it cost to reserve a block of MAC's? If they needed a thousand MAC addresses for some small project (maybe a new corporate standard Coke machine), and there's little to no incremental cost to get a block of 16 million, then there's no reason to think that they have some big plans to sell millions of devices.

    Besides, 16 million is not many MAC addresses if they really did expect to release any public product.

    • 16 million is only one 16 millionth of macs (24 bits of 48) not that much it's also the minimum they can reserve.

  • Why not? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Someone is being clueless- it's not a massive range, it's the smallest range you can reserve.

    If you're a large enough corp and it doesn't cost much, you might as well reserve a block for yourself.

    I don't see mac addresses going away anytime soon, and since they are given out in blocks of 16 million and there are "only" 16 million blocks one day coca cola's block of 16 million might become handy even if they don't use it now.

  • Coke is most likely planning promotion similar to the MagiCans promotion. For you kids out there random Coke cans would have pop-out cash or a coupon for free swag. I think the new version will to create a social network of bottle caps. Each cap has low cost WiFi chip similar to TI's SimpleLink module. You put it on a Skylanders-like pad and it powers the chip and acts a unique id. Arcades and stores will have these pads you earn points for each visit.

    My next guess is an shipment tracking on scale t
  • FFS, Slashdot. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ledow (319597) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @01:59PM (#45847613) Homepage

    What I read: "One of the world's largest companies has need of an allocation unique identifiers for network hardware".

    Fuck, they sell 1.7 BILLION coke products every single day (their 2010 annual report, on their website FAQ too).

    That means they sell over 1000 products a day for every MAC address they just reserved. They could use them to control the various parts of the fucking production lines via Ethernet and it still wouldn't be enough for their normal, everyday usage of such things. It's certainly no "Internet of things" heap-of-crap headline.

    How the hell did this make it onto Slashdot?

  • by mbone (558574) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @02:10PM (#45847767)

    It's a 48 bit address space. They have lots of addresses. This is the minimum allocation IEEE hands out. Lot's of companies have a /24 of Mac addresses.

  • by paiute (550198) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @02:11PM (#45847783)
    GREETINGS, COCA-COLA CUSTOMER! PLEASE INSERT YOUR CREDIT OR DEBIT CARD TO GET STARTED WITH YOUR PURCHASE OF A DELICIOUS COCA-COLA PRODUCT.
    Uh - can't I just put in some quarters?
    I AM AN INTELLIGENT INTERNET-CONNECTED VENDING WORKSTATION. I DISPENSE DELICIOUS COCA-COLA PRODUCTS, CHANGE YOUR FACEBOOK STATUS TO 'CURRENTLY ENJOYING A FINE COCA-COLA OR OTHER DELICIOUS COCA-COLA PRODUCT', LIKE THE COCA-COLA COMPANY, TWEET 'CURRENTLY ENJOYING A FINE COCA-COLA OR OTHER DELICIOUS COCA-COLA PRODUCT', SEND A PHOTO OF YOU OPENING YOUR COCA-COLA OR OTHER DELICIOUS COCA-COLA PRODUCT TO SNAPCHAT -
    Okay, okay! Here's my Visa card.
    THE VISA CARD ISSUER IS REPLYING THAT THERE IS SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY ON THIS CARD. IT WAS USED TO MAKE A PURCHASE IN THE AMOUNT OF FORTY-FIVE DOLLARS AND ZERO FIVE CENTS IN SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, FAR FROM THE ZIPCODE ON YOUR BILLING ADDRESS.
    Yeah, I bought something off of Amazon - Oh, nevermind... here's another card.
    WHAT IS THE PIN FOR THIS CARD?
    7734
    THAT PIN IS NOT RECOGNIZED FOR THIS DEBIT CARD.
    It's not a debit card. It's an ATM card.
    I CANNOT ACCEPT ATM CARDS DUE TO FEDERAL BANKING REGULATIONS. PLEASE INSERT A DEBIT CARD.
    I don't use a debit card. They don't protect my account. It could be stolen and all the money in my account - Oh, nevermind. Do you take dollar bills?
    I AM AN INTELLIGENT INTERNET-CONNECTED VENDING WORKSTATION. I DISPENSE DELICIOUS COCA-COLA PRODUCTS, CHANGE YOUR FACEBOOK STATUS TO 'CURRENTLY ENJOYING A FINE COCA-COLA OR OTHER DELICIOUS COCA-COLA PRODUCT', LIKE THE COCA-COLA COMPANY, TWEET 'CURRENTLY ENJOYING A FINE COCA-COLA OR OTHER DELICIOUS COCA-COLA PRODUCT', SEND A PHOTO OF YOU-
    I know! I know! You already said that! You don't accept any cash at all?
    DO YOU HAVE A PAYPAL ACCOUNT?
    Yes, unfortunately I do.
    PLEASE ENTER YOUR NAME AND BILLING ADDRESS ON YOUR PAYPAL ACCOUNT. PRESS THE GREEN 'I ACCEPT AND AGREE' BUTTON ON THE TOUCHSCREEN AND YOUR FINE COCA-COLA OR OTHER DELICIOUS COCA-COLA PRODUCT WILL BE BILLED TO YOUR PAYPAL ACCOUNT.
    Okay...I guess...
    THANK YOU FOR SELECTING COCA-COLA. YOUR BEVERAGE WILL BE DISPENSED SHORTLY...WAITING FOR GOOGLE ANALYTICS....LOADING...CONNECTING TO FACEBOOK.API....WAITING...LOADING...
    Forget it. I should be dieting anyway.
    YOU HAVE PUSHED THE RED 'CANCEL TRANSACTION' BUTTON. ARE YOU SURE?
    Yes, I don't want a Coke anymore. Besides, I can't figure out a way to buy one even if I still did.
    DO YOU HAVE A BITCOIN WALLET?
    Look - it's starting to snow. I am going to go over and scrape some together and let it melt in my mouth. Do you want some?
    WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO TAKE A SHORT FIVE MINUTE SURVEY REGARDING OUR INTERACTION TODAY? YOU WILL BE ENTERED IN A DRAWING TO WIN FIFTY DOLLARS WORTH OF COCA-COLA OR OTHER DELICIOUS COCA-COLA PRODUCT...
  • ... wondering, how many of the posters here do not understand that specific MAC addresses are not relevant as far as TCP/IP is concerned? So as long as no duplicate MACs are used in a L2 broadcast domain, it doesn't matter what MAC you use ...

  • by kasperd (592156) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @02:19PM (#45847881) Homepage Journal
    The oldest version of oui.txt I could find is dated 2010 [archive.org]. And the allocation was made before that. Which means it has been more than three years since this was news. Anybody know how to look up more precisely, when it was allocated?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 02, 2014 @02:25PM (#45847955)

    It's a trademark thing. They just wanted MAC addresses starting with C0:CA:C0:1A.

  • If you extrapolate, plus look at the hints Coke has been dropping...

    Coke must be working on a phone app that allows you to configure your "preferred" drink at their multi-selection syrup dispensers. Yes, you can accomplish it with RFID, but If each individual machine is internet-aware, then it can geo-fence to know who is near the machine, report syrup levels for restocking, as well as more accurately track a customer rewards program. We can't rely on phones to have NFC/RFID, so they need to come up wit

  • by Terje Mathisen (128806) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @05:16PM (#45850087)

    MAC addresses consists of 48 bits, of which 24 is a vendor code and the other half some sort of serial number.

    I.e. the smallest possible allocation of MAC addresses is a single vendor code, giving 2^24 or 16M unique addresses.

    Sounds like an obvious starting point for a Coca-Cola MAC address in every vending machine.

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