Security Q&A: Bluetooth Technology


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Q: First, what is Bluetooth?

A: Itâs a technology that lets devices communicate with each other sans cables or wires. More specifically, Bluetooth is a wireless standard, which means manufacturers of any device can ensure that their devices communicate with those from other companies.

Q: Why is Bluetooth so popular?

A: As anybody whoâs ever surfed the Internet on their patio can attest, the value of todayâs electronics skyrockets when they are freed of cables. The rapidly emerging world in which your laptop communicates wirelessly with your cell phone, car, home, and so forth opens up mind-boggling possibilities for productivity.

Q: If Bluetooth is poised to sweep the world, whatâs the problem?

A: In a word, security. Bluetooth uses short-wave radio frequencies, and the technology is not discriminating â" any Bluetooth-enabled device is happy to communicate with any other, as long as itâs in range.

As a result, Bluetooth devices are open to all manner of mischief and hacking. This may take the form of unsolicited messages (â-blam,â" or Bluetooth spam), or it may be more serious: attackers can access a company network through unsecured Bluetooth devices and steal or corrupt data. Some hacking groups have even figured out how to â-broadcastâ" unsolicited verbal comments to Bluetooth-enabled cars passing by.

Q: Arenât people working to make Bluetooth more secure?

A: Absolutely, and when properly configured, it can be reasonably safe. Key authentication and encryption features are built into Bluetooth. However, few users take advantage of these features â" as usual, the human element is the weak link when it comes to information security.

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