Understanding What is Bluesnarfing and How to Prevent It

Bluesnarfing meaning
Bluesnarfing refers to the theft of data from mobile phones, PDAs, or similar devices, by making use of the short-range connectivity system called Bluetooth. The new-technology data devices that we use nowadays can get vulnerable to these attacks if certain guidelines are not followed properly. This Buzzle post will provide you with the ways to prevent bluesnarfing.
Bluesnarfing can go on to such an extent that the bluesnarfer's device can remain undetected during the course of the fraud. In this case, the culprit's device is included in the trusted devices list (victim's device), and has the rights to access and modify all the data on it.
Unlike olden times, most devices like desktop computers or laptops, cell phones, or PDAs (personal digital assistant) now have a Bluetooth system integrated in them. It helps in interchanging data between multiple devices over shorter distances.

We may receive connection requests or unsolicited files on our devices at some point or the other. This is similar to junk emails received in the Inbox of our email account. Accessing these files is totally unsafe, especially when the sender is unknown. Such attacks, wherein the data of any device is accessed without authority, is called 'BLUESNARFING'.
How to Detect Bluesnarfing
Majority of the problems arise due to the fact that some devices have a default Bluetooth discoverable mode. Besides this, Bluetooth reachability is within 30 feet or so. Thus, for the attack to happen, the perpetrator must be close to where the victim is.

When a device is bluesnarfed, the perpetrator is able to access all the data. Besides the data, the hacker can make calls, send texts, access the contact list, notes, emails, images, videos, memos, etc.

Here are a few scenarios which indicate that a person has been bluesnarfed.
Scenario
A person is standing in a line at the ticket counter. Another person who happens to be the perpetrator, succeeds in pairing his device with the victim's device (which is placed in his bag). He hacks into the victim's phone and downloads his entire contact list. He modifies the contact numbers and replaces the old contact list with a new (modified) one. This is an accurate example illustrating bluesnarfing.
Scenario
A person is traveling in a bus. He has unknowingly left the Bluetooth on and in the discoverable mode. Another person (perpetrator) sitting on the next seat pairs up to the victim's phone (in an unauthentic manner), and downloads all the images. The perpetrator then circulates these images over a social media website. This is another situation of bluesnarfing.
If you observe any uncontrolled activity happening on your phone while the Bluetooth is on, you might just have been bluesnarfed.
How to Protect from Bluesnarfing
Bluesnarfing is dangerous to a large extent, because the culprit can take complete control over your device, rendering you helpless. This can even make you an accomplice in any of the culprit's crimes, thus making you prone to legal action in the future.

One easy solution to this problem is keeping confidential data on those devices which are not Bluetooth-enabled, because no matter what safety precautions you take, your data is susceptible to threats.
Update your device on a regular basis
Updating mobile phone
Almost any wireless device requires regular updation to keep up with the changing trends and technology. Bluetooth is not the only reason for bluesnarfing. Other devices like tablets, laptops, or phones are enabled with Bluetooth technology too.
Switch off Bluetooth
Turn off bluetooth of phone
Make sure your device's Bluetooth is on only when you need it. A constantly running Bluetooth can be one reason for inviting threats to your device. If you want to transfer a file to your friend's laptop, put on the Bluetooth, transfer the file, and turn it off. If you find it tedious to put it on and off constantly, at least make it a point to keep it on non-discoverable mode when not in use.
How to Prevent Bluesnarfing
Stay away from unknown devices
Make it a point to reject any connection requests from unknown devices. Some culprits send files or a contact card through Bluetooth. Accepting it not knowing who the sender is can be trouble. Once the file is accepted, the culprit's device gets added to the list of trusted devices on the receiver's side. This is how perpetrators can gain access to your phone or tablet.
Create stronger passwords
Creating password for mobile
Passwords are a good means for maintaining data and information securely. However, if the password is too short or contains easy word combinations, it can get hacked easily. Thus, setting passwords which are alphanumeric or having a longer length are always recommended.
Change passwords once in a while
Changing password of phone
No matter how long your password is, it is always prone to hacking. Thus, changing it at regular intervals is advisable. Keep a note mentioning the date when the password was last changed. Decide a time interval from the last changed date, and change the password at the right time.
Times have changed, and technology has advanced to a great extent. No matter how vigilant you are with your devices, threats will always be out there. It is our sole responsibility to keep our devices safe from snooping perpetrators.
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