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Bluetooth technology gives us an excellent short-range way to connect two devices. Thanks to how one device can discover another, we don’t need to use any wired connections to allow either of them to talk to each other.
In most cases, you’ll use one device to transmit information. The other device will receive the data, but it needs to have access or permission to Bluetooth for this to happen. Because some access is necessary, some people might wonder whether anyone else can connect to, see, or use their devices without knowledge or permission.
Unauthorized intrusions can result in malicious actors damaging or bricking your devices, seeing personal information about you, stealing critical data, and more situations that could have far-reaching consequences. Therefore, device protection is a critical part of how you use technology.
Can Someone Connect To My Bluetooth Device Without Me Knowing?
Theoretically, someone can connect to your device without your knowledge using Bluetooth. Part of the reason for this is how technology works. One device needs to “discover” another to create a short-range connection between them.
When you turn Bluetooth on, the device using it becomes visible across a given network. Without adequate protection, someone else could use Bluetooth to access your device.
However, this does not necessarily mean they automatically gain access to your unit’s system or critical data. Thanks to their connection to your phone or tablet, what they can see or do will depend on how your devices operate on the network.
Most people who want access to your devices understand that Bluetooth tends to work on short time frames and distances, so they will plan an intrusion accordingly.
In short, a malicious actor will probably try to choose crowded locations that use open networks and hotspots to make their move. Hotspotting is a common way to get on the internet without a nearby Wi-Fi network.
You’ll use one device to create a small network of your own and usually use your cell carrier’s network data. Once you do, you’ll ask your other device to connect to this network. The nature of hotspots means it might be easier for someone else to connect to your network, although this is not necessarily a given.
What Are the Different Types of Bluetooth Attacks?
There are several Bluetooth attacks, and a hacker might use any of them to gain something from you and your devices. Typically, the major attacks someone could use against you have names that tie them back to the technology itself.
We will give you some common details of the major Bluetooth attacks you might see worldwide. This list may not be comprehensive, but it represents several main hacks that bad actors can use, complete with details about what happens.
While it is not harmless, many people in the tech industry consider Bluejacking the least problematic type of attack you can encounter. You can think of it as someone linking to your device without permission, but the things they can do usually have quite a few limitations.
Most commonly, the person on the other end will send data you did not request. Often, this will come in anonymous messages or photos, some of which you may find unsuitable. It may be helpful to think of this type of attack as one similar to the prank phone calls you may receive from time to time.
While the name may sound a bit comical, this Bluetooth attack is more serious than its jacking counterpart. With Bluesnarfing, a malicious actor tries to use an active Bluetooth connection to steal some of the data on your device.
This data might include work emails, contacts, calendar schedules, photos, financial passwords, and other specific data. In the tech world, we call all such data personally identifiable, and you may see the acronym PIN during cybersecurity talks that involve such data.
Most people in the online security sector would tell you that Bluebugging is the most severe of the major attacks involving Bluetooth. When someone attempts Bluebugging, they want to gain control over the device.
This would be in contrast to Bluesnarfing, an attack during which someone might just get some of your information. With Bluebugging, they could still get this information. However, they now have a greater degree of control over your device.
The goal is to control all or part of the unit’s functions. Often, someone will do this by creating a backdoor into your device, which is a way they can gain access to it without your knowledge.
Once a bad actor gets inside your device over a Bluetooth connection, they can start taking control of it. In doing so, they could read and reply to texts, use apps, initiate downloads, make phone calls, or reroute calls you would have received to their number instead of yours.
These are just a few examples of things someone can do if their Bluebugging attack is successful. Further, skilled individuals can do all of this and get out of your system again without you ever knowing they were there in the first place.
Can Someone Spy on You Through Bluetooth?
Technically, someone can spy on you through the use of Bluetooth. However, the technology’s limitations make this somewhat unlikely. Before we go further, we should clarify that it isn’t a likely problem with any normal bad actor.
For eavesdropping to work, the person must have another nearby device and be able to use the connection to gain access to your device. We’ve covered some of the major ways they might do this already. However, doing so successfully means that the malicious actor needs to open the door to your device, put something on your device, or somehow view the data on your device.
All these things are something someone can do using a Bluetooth connection, but it takes some effort. The situation is not as simple as just linking two devices. Additionally, there are some things you can set up or enable to make it harder for unknown devices or people to access your phone or other devices.
How Do I Kick Someone off My Bluetooth Device?
There are several ways to kick someone off your device, but how you do so depends on what kind of unit you are operating. Some peripheral devices may have very little in the way of functionality or security.
For example, a simple Bluetooth speaker doesn’t necessarily have a way to prevent access on its own. However, you may be able to use your transmission device to control who or what can access the speaker.
Turning it off interrupts the Bluetooth connection if you use a peripheral like this. This would mean your device can’t connect, but it should also stop any piggyback operation.
There may be a few things you can do for more complex devices. Again, turning off your Bluetooth is an option, but you still want to be able to use it. In this case, you may be able to set up security protocols that allow only you to access one device or another through Bluetooth.
You can check your settings to see if this is possible. Some of them can set up a password or similar security measures.
How Can I Prevent People From Connecting to My Bluetooth?
You can take a few steps while enjoying your Bluetooth connection. One of the easiest things you can do is to make your device invisible to others. This way, you can be certain that you will connect it only to the peripherals you would like to use.
Otherwise, you can also ensure that you don’t connect to Bluetooth in public spaces. Ensure that codes or other security measures are active if you need to. Deny any requests from unknown devices, and check regularly to see which ones might have access to your Bluetooth-enabled tech.
Bluetooth is a great technology that is convenient to use, but it is not without risks. Some bad actors are finding new ways to exploit the vulnerabilities in Bluetooth. You can mitigate your risks using some of the security tips discussed above.
Even if you need to connect to Bluetooth in a public area, it is best to avoid sharing sensitive, important information over this network. Knowing who might be around to intercept data crucial to your finances or personal life can be hard.