Bluetooth Bodyguard

Although bluetooth technology is great for sending and receiving data wirelessly, it can also open the door to viruses and other security breaches. Windows shows you how to keep device out of harm’s way

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By  Cleona Godinho Published  January 1, 2006

|~||~||~|If you've recently bought a mobile phone, PDA or laptop, it quite likely features bluetooth technology. Simply put, bluetooth is a short-range (10-metre) wireless technology that lets devices exchange information. In order for data to be exchanged between two such devices, they have to be 'paired' with each other. Many users tend to pair their mobile phone or PDA with their laptop to exchange personal information such as photos, contacts or e-mails. However, if you pair your device with an unknown device (and you don't have security features enabled) then you could be opening the door to all sorts of nastiness. In this workshop, we’ll focus primarily on the dangers of bluetooth enabled-PDAs or mobile phones and show you how to protect these from attacks. Bluetooth threats As the popularity of bluetooth has increased worldwide over the past few years, it has also given birth to new security attacks such as bluejacking, bluesnarfing and bluebugging. Blue-jacking is when an attacker temporality hijacks a device by sending that user an anonymous text message disguised as a business card. Usually these messages contain annoying or offensive content similar to spam e-mails. Bluesnarfing is more dangerous, as the attacker can access someone else’s device and steal data, such as contact information, passwords and text messages, all without the user's knowledge. Bluebugging (the most deadly of attacks) on the other hand is when a hacker accesses a device and uses it to send text messages, make phone calls and surf the internet without your knowledge. With this specific type of attack, the hacker also has the ability to read and edit your phone book and eavesdrop on your conversations. Thankfully, for these attacks to be successful, the hacker must be within a range of ten metres. Luckily, securing your bluetooth device is a cinch and requires you just implementing simlar techniques to those you’d use to safeguard any wired or wireless network. If you have a bluetooth-enabled laptop, protecting this involves using a firewall and anti- virus package. As most mobile phones and PDAs however lack strong built-in security features - and because few third-party solutions are currently available - the precautions differ. ||**||Bluetooth Bodyguard (Contd) |~||~||~| Nine ways to secure your bluetooth device 1. Regularly upgrade software and download security patches onto your bluetooth devices from the relevant manufacturer’s website. Firms such as Nokia and Sony Ericsson have developed software upgrades for those mobile devices that tend to be susceptible to blue snarfing and bluebugging. 2. Don’t store usernames, passwords and similarly sensitive information on your bluetooth device 3. Encrypt all the data stored on your device so that in the event of an attack, your data will be safe 4. Set all your bluetooth device to run in ‘Undiscoverable mode’. This mode can be enabled via your device’s software 5. For maximum security, turn of bluetooth when you're not using it 6. Refrain from accepting bluetooth messages or any types of request from unknown senders 7. Always change your PIN (personal identification number). Also make sure it’s at least eight characters long and alphanumeric 8. Bluetooth attackers need to be close, so if you're being attacked just move to another area (and keep an eye on who is following you!) 9. If possible, don’t pair your device in a public place.||**||

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