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How Thieves may be using Bluetooth to Track you and your Gadgets
Published 15th July 2020

It’s the 21st century which means ‘smart devices’ are everywhere, from smart phones and smart TVs to smart kitchen appliances. Everything is connected, and the chances are very high that many of these devices will have Bluetooth wireless technology.

Bluetooth makes our lives easier by using short-range radio signals (known as ISM), to connect a host of devices to each other and send information back and forth. A simple example of this would be pairing your smart phone with your car sound system or wireless airphones. These days all manner of devices use it, tablets, laptops, cameras; all those fancy gadgets that capture the thieving eye.

When Bluetooth devices are set to ‘discoverable’ they can search for and locate each other within a certain radius. Phones usually share data at a range of about 0 to 10 metres apart while laptops can share at up to 100 metres apart. This means that it’s entirely possible for someone within that radius to ‘discover’ your device and potentially even hack it (a term known as BlueJacking). In these cases, it’s wise to only put your Bluetooth on when needed and keep it as ‘non-discoverable’.

Another area of security concern is the use of Bluetooth scanners to steal devices. You can find and download Bluetooth scanner apps that pick up on anything emitting a wireless signal. They list specific types of devices, the signal strengths and can even show a live list of devices being used nearby. No pairing or security protocols are necessary; the scanners simply locate the signal a device emits and then evaluate its strength and frequency. This make it very easy for thieves to pick up on devices in and around your home, work place or car before breaking in. Quite a scary thought. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of any devices emitting wireless signals and rather ensure they are turned off completely when not in use.

Creating a Bluetooth surveillance network is another way to prevent being tracked by your device. If several Bluetooth-enabled receivers are strategically placed to cover a large area, they can track the position of any ‘discoverable’ device within the range of receivers. This may be a wise option for the workplace to identify infiltrators as the system can create a general map of a perpetrator’s path and location while in range.

Although it’s fairly difficult for someone to use Bluetooth to identify you in particular, it’s still a good idea to turn off Bluetooth when not using a device or put it on ‘non-discoverable’ mode so that opportunists can’t make use of Bluetooth scanners to find your gadgets. Staying up to date with new security measures, even the non-tangible ones like cyber security, remains important! For more information on how to stay safe get in touch with us.

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