How safe is Bluetooth? Know all about Bluetooth security

Ruheni Mathenge Last updated: March 20, 2023 Read time: 15 minutes Disclosure

Bluetooth has security vulnerabilities that are not very popular. However, they are there and pose a risk for Bluetooth users. This article explains them and how to minimize them.

Sneak peek at Bluetooth security guide

Digital technology is such that security and convenience are often at odds with each other. Bluetooth technology is all about increased comfort. So it also comes with serious security issues that every user should know. However, adopting a few common-sense safety measures can keep you enjoying your Bluetooth gadgets without too much of a security risk.

Let’s face it. We can’t live without Bluetooth anymore. Our headphones, mobiles, keyboards, cars, and all kinds of electronic devices get internet links and interact with us through this technology. It’s here to stay, and it’s only becoming more prevalent. However, Bluetooth’s success begs the question about the technology’s security status: how safe is Bluetooth?

Well, it’s safer than WiFi for the most part. But every technology has vulnerabilities, and Bluetooth is no exception. For example, third parties could intercept your Bluetooth data. And would it be so terrible if somebody figured out what you’re listening to with your Bluetooth headphones? The problem is that a Bluetooth connection can give away much more information and data from any device you use to store your most sensitive data.

So join us as we tell you all about Bluetooth. What is it? How does it work? How can somebody attack you through Bluetooth? And, most importantly, how can you keep your Bluetooth activities safe? This article will answer all these questions and much more.

Bluetooth: What is it?

You probably have used Bluetooth technology to connect your iPhone to AirPods or your most-loved music program to a speaker.

Bluetooth is a communications protocol that creates a local network wirelessly linking nearby devices. So, for example, Bluetooth can allow your phone to connect with your headphones and use them as an audio output device without a cable.

It’s an open standard. That means that it’s a technology freely available to anybody. You don’t need to have a license to use it. This feature has helped Bluetooth become popular, and many devices adopt it daily.

Bluetooth is Jaap Haartsen’s brainchild, an Ericsson employee at the time — the early nineties. It is generally safe to connect devices through Bluetooth to one another. It is because the devices operate on a range of frequencies, and they hop between them hundreds of times a second.

In our current markets, you can find a wide variety of objects featuring Bluetooth functionality, from smartwatches to fridges.

How does it work?

Bluetooth eliminates cable connections in data exchanges between two pieces of hardware. Instead, it uses UHF radio waves of about 2.4 GHz.

Speed, security, ease of use

Bluetooth needs objects in close proximity to connect them and create a link that allows data to flow in both ways. The typical range is about 10 meters (or 30 feet). Bluetooth devices do not interfere with nearby signals of a similar frequency because every individual signal is weak.

The first step in creating a Bluetooth link is called “pairing.” It’s when you connect two Bluetooth devices for the first time. Every new pairing needs approval, which makes it relatively safe. Once you introduce two Bluetooth to each other through a first pairing, they will remember it in the future links will happen automatically whenever those two gadgets find each other again.

Bluetooth’s radio signals are weak, but they are still effective. So that audio you’re hearing in your headphones from YouTube right now, for instance, arrives in your ears instantly through your Bluetooth link.

Each local Bluetooth network admits up to eight devices. However, each network has one master device only, which is the one that can send data to the rest, which act as “receivers.”

Frequency Hopping

Frequency Hopping is one of the best built-in features in Bluetooth technology. That means the Bluetooth link keeps changing between channels within the 2.4 GHz range to keep the connection strong, stable, and reliable.

The Bluetooth protocol includes 79 frequencies. So, even if you have many Bluetooth networks co-existing in a small space, there are plenty of available frequencies for every device to choose from without mutual interference.