Bluetooth technology lets you set up a wireless network that can be used to connect any devices that are equipped with the technology. Bluetooth is used in a wide variety of devices, including home entertainment systems, phones, and computers. One of the most widely used implementations of Bluetooth is headsets for cell phones.
Bluetooth can be used to form networks of up to eight devices and generally only work at close range. Any technologies that communicate are subject to hackers, and unfortunately, Bluetooth is no exception. It can be used safely, but you have to safeguard your information. While there have been some instances of security breaches through Bluetooth, most of the risks can be avoided if you take steps to protect your devices.
The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) says that, in order for a hacker to break into a Bluetooth device, he must do the following:
1. Force two paired Bluetooth devices to break their connection
2. Steal the packets used to resend the PIN, and then:
3. Decode the PIN
Additionally, they have to be in range, which can vary depending on the device, but is typically about 30 feet.
Bluejacking, Bluesnarfing, and Bluebugging
Three of the main threats for cell phone users are bluejacking, bluesnarfing, and bluebugging. Bluejacking does not alter any of your data on your phone, but may cause you to receive unwanted messages.
Bluesnarfing and bluebugging allow a hacker access to your phone. They can then text, make calls, see your contacts and use the Internet. You probably don’t need to worry overly about bluesnarfing as it requires expensive equipment and a high level of expertise. In addition, newer phones are generally safe from bluesnarfing.
There are several measures users can take in order to protect their device’s information. According to Bluetooth SIG, Bluetooth users should take the following steps to ensure their privacy:
- Set your device to non-discoverable mode. This prevents others from seeing your device. You can still use it, but others will not be able to detect it.
- Only pair your device with known devices. Don’t accept content from, or pair with, devices from users you don’t know.
- Change your PIN. Always pair your devices in private and reset the PIN if it came with a default PIN. Whenever possible, use at least an eight character alphanumeric PIN.
- If you suspect your device has been subject to a security issue, contact the manufacturer. There may be a software patch that will protect you.