Technology, in many ways, has improved the standards of living that we know today. Our devices are interconnected in a way that makes day-to-day tasks easier and the vast sum of human knowledge is readily available at our fingertips. These advantages, though, also come with concerns. Mainly, the ways we stay connected can also make us vulnerable to malicious intent.
Bluetooth has become a common term within the technology market. Named for a legendary Viking king, Bluetooth systems utilize short-wavelength radio waves to communicate between devices within short distances of each other. When your phone connects to your car speakers or wireless headphones, it is using Bluetooth. A wireless mouse paired with a computer or laptop is utilizing Bluetooth to send commands. Most consumer-based wireless technology is some form of Bluetooth.
In so many ways Bluetooth connectivity can create advantages, but it is also important to know problems that can arise. Over the past few years, thieves have learned how to use the prevalence of Bluetooth technology to their advantage. When a Bluetooth setting is enabled a radio signal is broadcast. Even if the device is not connected to anything a small signal is still present. ‘Bluetooth scanners’ that measure distance and signal strength can read these signals. While vital for developers creating Bluetooth products, such scanners can be used by anybody. There are many free versions available in the App Store or Google Play Store.
Thieves are able to use these applications to scan areas, such as locker rooms or parking lots, for potential items of value. Simply by standing near a car and running a scanner, one can tell how many Bluetooth devices are within the vehicle. A pragmatic thief will case a parking lot and choose which vehicle will have the best potential haul. They may even be able to tell the specific part of the vehicle a device is kept, making their job even easier.
How can we prevent this from happening to us? The first and best method to avoid theft is to keep your devices with you. Any valuable item left in a car is a prime target for thieves. Putting a device into ‘airplane’ mode will not just turn off a Bluetooth setting, it will cut off the signal all together so it will not be picked up by scanners. Simply closing a laptop will not stop the Bluetooth signal so powering it off completely is advisable. Knowing public spaces where you may keep or store your items can also help as you will be more aware of security protocols, like roaming guards or surveillance cameras, that will help prevent loss.