Bluetooth Users: Watch Out for “Bluesnarfing”

(Photo: Getty Images)

With 77% of Americans owning smartphone, mobile phone usage has become ubiquitous with daily life. We use it constantly throughout the day for both work and leisure.

With most smartphone today comes a handy feature called Bluetooth that allows for hands free communication and pairing with many peripheral devices.

According to the Quora.com, 45% of Americans have enabled Bluetooth on their phone. Lurking in the shadow of smartphone and Bluetooth popularity, scammers are waiting to hack into your smartphone by using Bluetooth technology against us.

Typically, scammers will break into smartphone using a device that allows to find open networks and Bluetooth devices left on continuously and in “discovery mode” – visible to all. There are plenty of stories of “war drivers” who cruise neighborhoods and public locations looking for unprotected mobile devices to hijack.

In fact, a hacker can capture devices as much as 300 feet away.

Once your device is compromised, hackers have access to all contact, emails, passwords, photos, and any other personally identifiable information in your phone. Your phone can also be tapped for long distance and 900 number calls, leaving you will the bill at the end of the month.

So how do you protect your Bluetooth enabled smartphone?

  • Best Practice: Simply disable Bluetooth when you are not using it.
  • Always use a minimum of eight characters in your PIN. The longer your code, the more difficult it is to crack. Every digit adds approximately 10,000 more combinations required to crack your PIN.
  • Switch Bluetooth into “not discoverable” mode when you aren’t using it. If you make a call from your car, be sure to switch it off when you get out. Crowded public places are top spots for hackers.
  • Don’t accept pairing requests from unknown parties. If you happen to pair your phone with a hacker’s computer, then all your data will be at risk.
  • Require user approval for connection requests. Check your smartphone user’s manual for details on how to configure security features.
  • When pairing devices for the first time, do so at home or in the office. Don’t initiate pairing in a public area. Source: BBB.org and AvoidAClaim.com.

For more information, go to What percentage of US cell phone users generally keep Bluetooth or Wi-Fi turned on?, Record shares of Americans now own smartphones, have home broadband, and Protecting Yourself from Cybercrime Dangers: Harden Your Wireless & Bluetooth Connections and Use Public Wi-Fi with Extreme Caution.

If you would like to report a scam, call your BBB at 256-533-1640 or go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, visit bbb.org.

BBB North Alabama New Release: Bluetooth Users: Watch Out for “Bluesnarfing”