Even if you don’t already use Bluetooth technology, chances are good that you’ve heard or seen someone who does. One example is that person in the grocery store who appears to be talking to himself, that is, until you notice the small earpiece attached to the side of his head.
Bluetooth is a widely-used technology that allows devices such as mobile phones, computers, storage devices, wireless keyboards and other interactive devices to communicate with each other without cables or wires. It is an electronics "standard," which means that manufacturers that want to include this feature have to incorporate specific requirements into their electronic devices to ensure that the devices can recognize and interact with other devices that use the Bluetooth technology.
It is possible to configure Bluetooth technology to be reasonably secure, but if someone can "discover" your Bluetooth device, he or she may be able to send you unsolicited messages or use your Bluetooth service, which could cause you to be charged extra fees. Worse, an attacker may be able to find a way to access or corrupt your data.
How can you protect yourself? The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, a part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, offers the follow tips on their website:
•Disable Bluetooth when you are not using it - Unless you are actively transferring information from one device to another, disable the technology to prevent unauthorized people from accessing it.
•Use Bluetooth in "hidden" mode - When you do have Bluetooth enabled, make sure it is "hidden," not "discoverable." The hidden mode prevents other Bluetooth devices from recognizing your device. This does not prevent you from using your Bluetooth devices together. You can "pair" devices so that they can find each other even if they are in hidden mode. Although the devices (for example, a mobile phone and a headset) will need to be in discoverable mode to initially locate each other, once they are "paired" they will always recognize each other without needing to rediscover the connection.
•Be careful where you use Bluetooth - Be aware of your environment when pairing devices or operating in discoverable mode. For example, if you are in a public wireless "hotspot," there is a greater risk that someone else may be able to intercept the connection than if you are in your home or your car.
•Evaluate your security settings - Most devices offer a variety of features that you can tailor to meet your needs and requirements. However, enabling certain features may leave you more vulnerable to being attacked, so disable any unnecessary features or Bluetooth connections. Examine your settings, particularly the security settings, and select options that meet your needs without putting you at increased risk. Make sure that all of your Bluetooth connections are configured to require a secure connection.
•Take advantage of security options - Learn what security options your Bluetooth device offers, and take advantage of features like authentication and encryption.