Bluetooth devices are at the center of the smart technology evolution. This battery-powered technology connects to all smart home devices, headphones, and almost every device you can think of. Smartphones pair for data transfer and as we all know, where data is shared, hackers are always close by. You could easily lose your confidential data saved in your email, social media, or banking apps if your Bluetooth pairs with a malicious person’s Bluetooth. That is why we must be cognizant of the imminent cybersecurity threat that Bluetooth poses and learn to protect ourselves.
Your Bluetooth security is dependent on its level and version. Here are the levels you need to know about:
- Level one Bluetooth devices can pair with any Bluetooth device, regardless of the version or level, without needing the owner’s verification. These devices pose the greatest security threat to your personal data.
- Level two devices do not pair without pin verification. Although the risk here is not as advanced as it is with level one devices, there still is room for criminals to infiltrate your data.
- Level three devices use swap security codes to pair, leaving no gap for a security breach. However, coding errors could occur and leave your device vulnerable.
- Level four devices have stronger and complex authentication protocols than all the other levels. Their Bluetooth security risks are significantly fewer.
Note: Modern Bluetooth-enabled devices such as Raspberry Pi 4 use Bluetooth 5.0. which has way superior security features than all the 4 levels above. The new software doesn’t have zero vulnerabilities, but it is safe to say that it is near perfect.
General Software Vulnerabilities
Bluesnarfing happens when a hacker pairs with your Bluetooth device without your knowledge and steals or compromises your personal data. You need to always keep your Bluetooth off whenever you aren’t using it in order to keep hackers at bay.
Bluetooth encryption in levels 2-4 is designed to keep eavesdroppers away, but their imperfect coding and outdated protocol sometimes leave unpatched security holes, making your data vulnerable. Eavesdroppers trick you into pairing with their devices by misspelling the name of a device your device trusts. They can, for example, name their device the same name you have named your office printer, so when you are searching the printer using your phone Bluetooth, it is the hackers’ Bluetooth you find and connect with first. Upon pairing, they gain access to your entire device. Always ensure that your Bluetooth device uses the latest software and protocols. Also, countercheck the name of the device you connect with even if you trust it – don’t ignore any misspellings.
3. Denial of service
A hacker can crash your devices and start denying you services such as messaging and call services. They can even block your phone from receiving emails, drain your battery, or even block commands. It is important that you switch off your Bluetooth when you’re not using it.
4. Viruses and worms
This happens when you download malware from counterfeit websites and apps. Many smartphone users have fallen in this trap where they misspell web URLs or download unverified apps, only for the app to open up their Bluetooth security and leave it vulnerable to hackers. You can combat this threat by only downloading apps from trusted websites, and ensuring that you read all the terms of service before installing an app on your phone.
Bluetooth range is greater than you think.
5. Bluetooth headsets vulnerability
Hackers can open up Bluetooth headsets and eavesdrop on the conversations around you. This includes the calls you make, the face-to-face conversations you make when the headset is still on, and even third-party conversations. It is important that you disconnect your Bluetooth headset when you are not using it.
The good thing about Bluetooth is that devices must be just a few feet away for them to pair. That means that a potential hacker must be within a short distance to successfully mine your data, unlike in most cybersecurity challenges where hackers access tech devices from remote locations. Switch off your Bluetooth when not in use will neutralize most of these security concerns. Others tips include:
- Rejecting pairing requests from unknown devices.
- Keeping your firmware updated at all times.
- Buy a device that has sufficient security features.
We have been using Bluetooth connections for decades now, and many people have not been too careful with our Bluetooth security. That has given hackers all the freedom they need to abuse the security vulnerabilities that this technology has. This needs to stop. Protect your devices from Bluetooth attacks.