We use Bluetooth to wirelessly connect our devices together. Here’s how to stay safe while using Bluetooth.
Bluetooth wirelessly connects (or ‘pairs’) devices together over short distances. It’s commonly found in phones, cars, computers, fitness trackers, gaming consoles and controllers, headphones, tablets and TVs.
Bluetooth is used to pair wireless devices like headphones, keyboards, or a mouse to phones or computers. It’s also what enables you to make and take hands-free calls while driving.
Are there any risks in using Bluetooth?
Because it uses radio waves, Bluetooth is susceptible to eavesdropping and remote access. Connecting over Bluetooth can expose private information, allow a person to send you viruses, or even enable a person to control the Bluetooth device.
Although it sounds like something out of a spy story, it’s not unheard of for cars to be hacked through the car’s Bluetooth connectivity. If another person pairs your phone with their car, they can receive calls intended for you if they are close by (generally within 10 meters).
What can I do about the risks?
There are many ways to reduce the risks.
- Keep your devices secure with strong pass-codes or passwords and keep a close eye on them, particularly in public places.
- Enable Bluetooth only when needed and ‘remove’ paired devices when you aren’t using them.
- Make sure your Bluetooth device is only paired to devices you are aware of and can control:
> If you have an in-car Bluetooth navigation system, make sure only your device is paired with the car.
> Check your fitness tracker and unlink any unknown devices that aren’t owned by you. Read more about fitness trackers.
- Make sure you’ve changed the security settings on your Bluetooth devices to make them as strong as possible; don’t leave them on the default settings, particularly the default device name and default password. This makes it hard for other people to find and pair with them.
- If security is a worry for you, don’t pair devices in public places.
- If a Bluetooth device is lost or stolen, remove the device from the devices list on the phone, computer or other device that you usually pair it with.