Bluetooth makes life easier. It’s the IOT connectivity easy button. It made your life quick and easy to be able to connect your iPhone or Android , smart earbuds , smart speakers, cars radios , smart lightbulbs and smart fridges and even smart toaster ovens. But blue tooth and Blue tooth low energy is very problematic for reasons more serious than pairing issues.
Bluetooth has been proven time and time again to be a security and privacy nightmare. Security professionals and hackers think of it as a bad word. Or awesome tech if they are capitalizing on the vulnerabilities.
The Def Con hacker conference, in Las Vegas, just finished up and one of the recommendations given to attendees is to make sure Bluetooth is disabled on their phones. Yes, don’t turn on Bluetooth or turn it off is the advice given for this conference.
Think about that the next time you want to leave Bluetooth enabled.
Is this all just more click bait fake news fear mongering like Elon Musk loving to hear himself speak about the end of the world scare tactics ? Not exactly.
This isn’t nuking Mars or Asteroid destroying earth or AI robots turning into sky net scare tactics here. Blue tooth is really poorly designed and built when it comes to security.
It’s been shown at various conferences and events, in blog posts and on YouTube videos that hackers and security professionals can use Bluetooth to identify vulnerable medical devices , digital speakers, and hack into your now always connected car. Hackers or bored tech savvy intelligent thirteen year olds could take control of these devices and force them to play dangerous sounds or mess with heartbeat monitoring devices or turn a car off or lead them astray. The nation state or ransom ware bad guy hackers are one thing , but some script kiddie just learning isn’t even out to really harm anybody. Except they accidentally would in some of these instances.
Earlier this year researchers announced a flaw that could allow hackers to both intercept and alter data sent over Bluetooth. Talk about data security and privacy concerns. A attacker is able to listen in on, or change the content of, nearby Bluetooth communication, even between devices that have previously been successfully paired.
There are other stories and media reports where many stores like Walmart or Target or a grocery store now use Bluetooth beacons to track the location of individual shoppers down to the inch. That information is collected, analyzed and often sold or given to advertisers, who then use it to build data profiles on unwitting people just trying to buy some shampoo or socks or a bottle of water.
Many people keep Bluetooth enabled all the time. It makes life easier to pair and connect. Who wants to go to their phone settings or home security settings and enable Bluetooth and then pair it with the other Device every time you want to use your headphones or get into a car. But by having Bluetooth always on and always connected , you open yourself up to these potential hacks, abuses, and privacy violations.
What’s the solution to fix these Bluetooth vulnerabilities and challenges ?
Well that’s simple. You just have to turn Bluetooth off. Use it when you must , disable it or turn it off the rest of the time. Problem solved. It’s not exactly comforting, but it is what it is for now.