Blue Tooth Hackers

April 04, 2013

BBB is warning consumers that hackers can burrow into mobile devices using technology used for hands-free calling and wireless keyboards.

Hackers are exploiting Bluetooth wireless connections to access texts, contacts and photos, send texts and even place long-distance telephone calls. 

Bluetooth uses a low-powered transmitter and receiver that allow wireless handsets, keyboards and car stereos to interact with mobile devices.  Though the range of these devices is limited, hackers use special software and antennas to intercept the signals of compatible devices nearby using a technique called “bluebugging.”

Although this hacking method is relatively new and has been used mostly to hack the phones of government officials and celebrities, it is a reminder that consumers have to stay one step ahead of the criminals by understanding the risks and taking steps to protect themselves.   

Scammers can hang out in a busy area such as a coffee shop, mall or any other public area and hack into nearby phones that are Bluetooth-enabled, using the phones to call long distance numbers and rack up charges for the unsuspecting victims.

BBB offers the following tips to ensure your Bluetooth isn't hacked:

  • Turn off your mobile device’s Bluetooth or put in “not discoverable” mode when you are not 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.
  • When pairing devices for the first time, do so at home or in the office - not in a public area.
  • Log out of shopping and banking applications when you are finished using them and never allow an app to store your login and password.
  • Make sure you download and install regular security updates.  Device manufactures will release updates to address threats and correct weaknesses.
  • Install software to allow you to wipe your device clean remotely in case you lose it or it is stolen.