You probably already own a few Bluetooth wireless devices. You are expected to own about five devices by 2017, and five billion will be shipped by 2019. That’s a gigantic number of electronic devices. So you have to ask yourself “Is Bluetooth safe?”, and the answer is a definite “Yes.”
Every iteration of Bluetooth hardware and software has increased in capability and security. At the time of writing, Bluetooth 4.2 is the standard and it incorporates AES 128-bit encryption, the security standard that the U.S. Government uses to protect classified information, which more than meets consumer needs.
Bluetooth applies three security processes:
Authentication & Authorization: This is completed through the pairing process, which generates and exchanges several keys for encryption and authentication to determine who is at the other end of a Bluetooth link, and if their device should have access to yours.
Encryption & Data Protection: Bluetooth encrypts your data and only allows paired devices to decrypt it, making it almost impossible for unauthorized users to capture and decipher your personal information. Pairing indicates you trust the other device and want to interact with it. The paired devices possess and exchange various encryption keys in order to make that trusted relationship.
Privacy & Confidentiality: In addition to encrypting the data being transmitted, the latest version of Bluetooth also makes it possible to encrypt the address of the Bluetooth device itself. This makes it nearly impossible for someone else to track a device, like your phone or fitness tracker, as it moves from place to place.
Learn more about Bluetooth security here
How to Protect Your Data
Wait, so if Bluetooth is safe, why do I have to protect my data? Because, the technology has been around for more than 10 years and while each version becomes more secure, there are millions of older devices, some still available for purchase, with older security standards. Not to mention, it seems that hackers eventually break into everything. So what can you do?
The first and simplest way to protect your device is to turn off Bluetooth when you’re not using it. On most devices, turning Bluetooth off/on is a matter of sliding a switch or pressing a button – make sure you know where the controls are for you device.
The second method is to NOT use default pairing codes, and avoid easy to guess (0000 and 1234 come immediately to mind) passcodes.
When looking at new devices, look for one that uses Bluetooth 4.2 and later specifications. Avoid the versions with known vulnerabilities: Bluetooth 1.x, 2.0, or the 4.0-(Low Energy) LE variant.