(Group 3) -- Kelsey, Amrita, Fasih, Willis
Technology & Issue
Issue: Security of personal information being breached
What is Bluetooth?
Well it is not something you need to go to the dentist about. Invented by and named after a man who loved blueberries which left him with an interesting set of stained teeth, Bluetooth is a cable replacement technology. Basically with a Bluetooth chip plugged into a computer, cell phone or other electronic device, information can be sent between another device with a Bluetooth chip by a special frequency rather than the traditional use of cables or cords. This is possible as long as the communicating devices are within range, approximately 30 feet. This data transmission creates personal area networks making communicating with multiple devices whether fixed or mobile much more convenient. Many high-profile companies such as IBM, Microsoft, Intel and Nokia have already invested in the technology. Bluetooth was initially developed by Swedish phone maker Ericsson to allow laptop computers to make calls from mobile phones. There are now many more uses for Bluetooth technology including:
- communication between mobile phones and hands-free headsets
- wireless communication between PCs and devices such as a mouse, keyboard or print
- to improve capabilities of technologies such as GPS receivers, medical equipment, barcode scanners and traffic control equipment
- sending advertisements from Bluetooth enabled devices to other Bluetooth activated devices within range
- wireless video game controllers
- connect mp3 players wirelessly to computers to transfer music
How Bluetooth Is Used in Society
Bluetooth is used in many ways among todays society, most commonly Bluetooth is found in cellphones. Many people have the feature of Bluetooth in their phones, but what does it do? After registering a Bluetooth headset to a mobile phone, one can talk with ease with all the basic controls of a phone (eg. talk, volume) on the bluetooth headset and access those controls without ever touching the phone once. This allows more freedom with one to be able to use his/her hands freely without holding onto a phone; all of these features are without any wires too! Another cool thing about Bluetooth is that it can do a whole other sorts of things, for example, if you're listening to some music on you're phone and an incoming call comes, a quick of hit of a button and voila you're talking then once you're done, hit the button and music back where you left it. Bluetooth can do a little environment control, meaning, take that you are in a movie theatre, once you enter the theatre the bluetooth inside the phone can register that and turn the music off.
Other than phones, Bluetooth can be found in Keyboards, Digital Cameras, Mice, Printers/Fax Machines. The usage in the keyboards/Mice allows further distance from the PC which can reach a range of 30Ft or more! This can make it a lot easier to use you're PC if you hook it up to a TV, the wires of the keyboard/mice won't get in the way and with ease you can sit on the couch and use the PC as if you were on a desk. Furthermore Bluetooth can be used to hook up 2 or more Computers, thus meaning less Bandwidth is used.
Problems with Bluetooth
Apart from feeling like an idiot when you are vain enough to believe that a compelete stranger is trying to have an intimate conversation with you, there are some things to consider with Bluetooth technology.
There are a few minor glitches that come with Bluetooth technology, this includes:
- intereference from other devices which uses radio waves, for example cordless phones
- network crowding, or interference from other Bluetooth devices. Although this is very unlikely seeing as there are thousands of channels, and the probablity of more than one device being on the same channel is slim to none.
- in older Bluetooth devices, range was limited to only 10 meters! This has evolved to a range of up to 100 meters!
A more serious and central concern of Bluetooth technology is the evolution of hacking, also known as "Bluejacking". In older devices, due to the limited range, the most someone could do to you was send you an insluting text or a dirty picture, and they would have to be sitting beside you literally. Now, since the range has icreased greatly, anyone could potentially hack into your Bluetooth device. Since new technologies like PDA's or laptops contain personal information like banking statements or credit card numbers, the effect of bluejacking can be quite harmful. A Bluetooth hacker could hack into your PDA and use information in that device to cause great finacial problems, or even identity theft.
Another concern with bluetooth technology invloves the very popular bluetooth headsets. These headestes can be hacked from a computer, given the extended range, under the guise of a cellphone. Since the only authorization for most devices is a simple pin code, which is usually 0000, your headset can be hacked quite easily. What is the advantage of hacking a headset you ask? Well, you can pretty much record a conversation between two strangers, or maybe a girlfriend and her ex, and also add arbitrary audio to it. So if you maybe wanted to frame someone for murder, this is the best way to get started.
Alas, with any technology there is a solution..until hackers evolve.
Solutions to Hacking
Although large companies have allegedly say Bluetooth is safe yet there have been numerous problems as stated. But Fear not!! There are solutions to this problem...the first thing one must do is understand the basics of Bluetooth.. that is when "registering" your bluetooth device you must open a connection on your mobile phone. This is the only time "hackers" can come into the system, now this wouldn't be a problem but having your registering device being able to pick up any bluetooth device within a range of 100 Ft, now that is a problem. So instead of pairing two devices in a public place try to do it someplace secure like your home. Yet the simplest solution is too change your device into non-discovery mode always, but alas the hackers have become a bit more sneaky and will try to send false information to your device saying that the connection is lost. Do not reopen the connection unless it is from a trustworthy sender!
It's not that homeowners are the only target but major corporations are as well and its the companies responsibilities to ensure these safety measures are put upon. However since most corporations do not provide these devices these measures are only voluntary or instead the company supplies the devices and does all the safety measures.
Future of Bluetooth
There are many possibilities, some speculation is that once bluetooth merges with UWB, the upside would be that there will be less interference (ie. less static) yet there is a downside which is that there is less backward compatibility. Another possiblity is that you're cellphone would be able to be used as a TV Remote control...the possibilities are endless
Even though Bluetooth makes life easier there is hackers ready and willing to hack into others privacy. So future safety measures could be allowing voice recognition commands, this will reduce the hackers capabilities drastically since there will be a unique voice to be used to change all the settings and security. This will then make the Pin Codes obsolete since pin codes are always breakable, even if one has a large pin code a new technology will come out to aid the "hackers" and to be able to break the pin code.