April 16, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

Dangers of Bluetooth

I’m big on using Bluetooth devices, I will be the first to admit it. Yes, I’ve heard all the stories about how Bluetooth gives off radiation, and how terrible that would be to have so near to your brain. OK, I hear all that. You don’t want to put a cell phone to your ear, and Bluetooth is dangerous to have on your ear. Not much left, I suppose. Be all that as it may, I’m not talking about the dangers of Bluetooth to your body, I’m talking about the dangers of Bluetooth to your personal privacy. Check this out…..

I was visiting a local Coffee Bean, killing a little time while waiting for a client. I sat down with my Iced Latte and opened up my Macbook to do some work while I waited. I didn’t want to listen to the piped in music, so I pulled out my Stereo Bluetooth Headphones and popped them in my ears. I had never paired these particular headphones with my Macbook, so I proceeded to put my Mac into pairing mode. This is where it started.

To my shock, yes, actually I was shocked, up popped six open Bluetooth devices, just beaconing for me to pair with it. There was “Jaye’s computer, Mia’s Mac, Blackberry Curve, JimiPhone, Dudemac and xpclient. At first blush this may not seem terribly surprising, however the implications of it were truly startling. Allow me to explain.

All of these devices were in what is called “discoverable†or “pairing†mode, meaning they were open to be communicated with. Now I’m not a hack, and it is possible some of these had PIN#’s assigned to them to prevent unauthorized access, however I’ll bet ya dimes to donoughts that most of them had the default “0000″ passcode still in place. This means, I could have accessed any of those devices from the comfort of my wooden chain here in the coffee shop.

What would I find? Suffice to say, I could easily snag all of the contact information stored on any of those phones. If they put any notes in their notes sections, I could grab that too. Perhaps some bank info in there, credit card numbers, passwords who knows what. Emails? Maybe, that may take a little more know how, but not out of the question.

If that doesn’t frighten you, just wait for the computers. I can sum that up in one sentence. With a Bluetooth connection from my computer to those computers, I could pretty much get anything off that machine I wanted. Yes, anything. Photos, emails, contacts, videos, documents, spreadsheets, you name it – just sitting there for the taking.

Did I also mention that all of this could be accomplished without the owner of those devices even being aware of it? At best a small popup window that would be quickly clicked on and closed, more likely nothing at all. Yes, really.

Please remember, the vast majority of your gadgets out there come with a Bluetooth radio in them. This means your laptops, netbooks, phones, smart phones, dump phones, even some cameras now, headsets, mice, printers and the list goes on and on. You may lock the door of your office or home at night, have a great security system, use a Firewall for the computer and a router, and it is all for nothing if you leave the Bluetooth turned ON and in the mode to be discovered. The solution is simple and two fold. First, always be sure to change the default PIN# that your Bluetooth device comes with. Second, do not leave your device in Discoverable mode unless you are actively pairing it with something else.

Keep your information just that – YOUR information.

Karl D. Susman

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