These days, all communication technology faces the issue of privacy and identity theft, with Bluetooth being no exception. Almost everyone knows that email services and networks require security. What users need to realize is that Bluetooth also requires security measures as well.
The good news for Bluetooth users is that the security scares, like most scares, are normally over-dramatized and blown entirely out of proportion. It’s true that there has been some Bluetooth phones that have been hacked into. Most devices that are hacked into are normally those that don’t have any type of security at all.
According to Bluetooth specialists, in order to hack into a Bluetooth device, the hacker must:
- Force two paired devices to break their connection.
- Steal the packets that are used to resend the pin.
- Decode the pin.
Of course, the hacker must also be within range of the device, and using very expensive developer type equipment. Most specialists recommend that you have a longer pin, with 8 digits being recommended.
Fundamentals of security
The “pairing process” is one of the most basic levels of security for Bluetooth devices. Pairing, is two or more Bluetooth devices that recognize each other by the profiles they share – in most cases they both must enter the same pin.
The core specifications for Bluetooth use an encryption algorithm, which is completely and entirely secure. Once the devices pair with each other, they too become entirely secure.
Until they have successfully paired, the Bluetooth devices won’t communicate with each other. Due to this pairing process and the fact that it is short range – Bluetooth technology is considered to be secure.
With an unsecure or weakly protected Bluetooth connection, hackers can intercept your devices’ signals and learn everything about you, from your birthday and passwords to credit card numbers and bank accounts. There are several ways they do this.
They use worms and viruses that they infect devices with through the Bluetooth connection. These malware programs will be placed in certain apps and then turn on and search your device for information once the app is opened.
“Snarfing” is another tactic used by hackers. They hack into your Bluetooth device and can directly download your contact information, calendars and pictures. This may not give them immediate information, but they can then use it to figure out passwords and other vital info.
Security comes in four levels, 1 through 4. Level 1 security is basic and can allow nearly anyone to listen to phone calls and intercept your data. Level 2 is more advanced because it asks for authentication from both connected devices, but it pairs before the authentication, meaning there’s a window for hackers. Level 3 authenticate before devices pair, closing that window and making the connection very secure. Level 4 uses stronger authentication codes than Level 3 to make a more secure connection.
Bluetooth is a great technology for connectivity, but you need to take some precautions and know what you are buying.