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Tips for a More Secure Bluetooth Connection

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Bluetooth is a technology that makes it possible to exchange data using short wavelength radio waves. The technology was invented in 1994 and it allows pairing, synchronization and exchange of data among Bluetooth enabled devices (including laptops, Smartphones, tablets, PDAs, headsets, car stereos etc.) over short distances. Just like other wireless technologies, Bluetooth has built-in security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers and malicious programs. This article will focus on how you can make secure Bluetooth connectivity on your devices.

1) Disable Bluetooth When Not Needed

Since Bluetooth has the power to exchange data automatically, it makes sense to disable the feature when not needed. Hackers and criminals are always looking for new devices to infect (especially at public places) but you can protect your devices and data simply by turning Bluetooth off. Most people think that Bluetooth can only be operated over a short distance; however, security experts and hackers have shown that the range of Bluetooth could be extended over long distances through antennas.

2) Set Discovery Mode to Off

Even when you have enabled the Bluetooth functionality, you must switch off the discovery mode. By default, the discovery mode is enabled in many devices so your device could be attacked with a virus or infected file when you are within the range of an infected device. Ideally you should enable the discovery mode only when you are not able to pair your devices for data exchange for some reason.

3) Update the Software

Since Bluetooth is an emerging technology; security experts discover new vulnerabilities in it from time to time. Most device manufacturers release updates to their softwares on a regular basis so make sure to download and install the updates on your Bluetooth enabled devices.

4) Secure Pairing

By default, Bluetooth exchanges data only with trusted devices. However, you need to ensure that you are securing your devices with a strong PIN. If possible, you must exchange data at an isolated place so that your devices remain safe from security threats. Also, you must monitor the data transfer process to ensure that your devices are not being attacked by a nearby device. If you are asked for PIN while the data transfer is in progress, it could be due to a security breach. Do not enter your PIN in such cases; it is much better to repair your devices instead.

5) Remain Safe from Known Threats

There are several well-known Bluetooth security threats that criminals use to infect other devices. For instance, Bluejacking involves sending business cards to other users and when someone accepts it, all the future messages (including messages infected with a virus) would be opened automatically since the number is already in the contact list. Likewise, Bluebugging makes it possible for hackers to access a device remotely and send messages and make calls without the owner’s knowledge. Bluesnarfing is yet another technique that provides unrestricted access to schedules and contact details of an infected device. The Car Whisperer is a software that transmits audio data from Bluetooth enabled car stereos making it possible for hackers to eavesdrop on your calls. To avoid becoming a victim of these security threats, make sure not to accept or install business cards, files and messages from unknown numbers or devices.

June 4, 2014

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