Bluetooth and Bluebugging: Bluetooth is a very significant part of our day-to-day lives, whenever there is a conversation of wireless communication Bluetooth is always in consideration. Let’s take a look and find out what it is? How does it work? What impact does it have? And almost everything one could be curious about.
What is Bluetooth?
Let’s start with the basics of Bluetooth, we live in a place where wireless communication plays a very big role even if we think we don’t use it but it is somehow a part of our life. Examples of wireless communications are numerous like the Radio we use, television for instance they pick up Radio waves hundreds and thousands of miles through the air and we get to see, hear the desired stuff through it.
There is similar technology used in phones too. The Wi-Fi we use is also a medium of wireless communication. All these technologies use the same method of communication and it’s wireless where they send and receive signals/information back and forth in the form of waves invisible to our eyes.
Bluetooth uses similar radio wave technology, but its range is limited. It can be used for communication within the range of 10m or 30ft. Having a short-range doesn’t limit the uses we have of it like downloading photos from a digital camera to our PC, using Bluetooth headphones to listen to music, calling and gaming, using a wireless mouse to our laptop.
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All the gadgets which have Bluetooth also have in-built transmitters and receivers (antennas) for the purpose of transmitting and receiving signals at both ends, that’s how they send and receive wireless signals simultaneously from one device to another.
In case there is no antenna in-built they can be made or converted by using plugin adopters (through USB, PCMCIA (personal computer memory card international association) PC cards, etc.)
Type of Bluetooth –
Based on the transmitter’s power which operates the range a Bluetooth device can work, we can categories it into 3 types-
The device that has the best connectivity and is the most powerful falls in this class they can operate up to a range of 100m (330ft),
They have a little less power and connectivity than class 1 and are the most common ones, can operate up to a range of 10m (33ft), and
The last one, they are the least powerful and can only perform up to a range below 3.3ft.
How does it work?
Like other wireless communications, Bluetooth transmits and receives radio waves. It has 79 different frequency (channels) bands, centered on 2.45 GHz.
The importance of it can be understood by the range of areas it has a use starting from radio, television, and cellphones, industrial, scientific, and medical gadgets all having different channels.
Connectivity is Easier
Even connectivity is easier with Bluetooth, the concerned device detects the signal and connects automatically and it can be made to connect up to 6-8 at any one time. And the good part is that it doesn’t interfere with one another as each pair of devices has 79 available channels to choose from.
Spread Spectrum Frequency
This random selection of channels is made possible through the technique called – spread-spectrum frequency hopping. Where signals are rapidly and randomly switched across a wide range of different frequencies to improve the security and reliability of wireless communication).
Meaning if during a communication one channel is busy it will randomly switch to another channel from any of the 79 available.
Performance and Security
One other good point is that it (any pairs of devices) shift the frequency they are using thousands of times a second to improve the performance and security by minimizing the risk of interference.
To ensure good communication between two or more Bluetooth devices forms an ad-hoc whenever they are sharing information, this mini-computer network is well known as a piconet. It allows other devices to join and leave as they please at any time.
Master slave analogy
This process uses master-slave enology, where a device acting as master controls the overall network and the other device acting as a slave obeys its instructions. For a larger and bigger network purpose, two or more different piconets can join and form a scatter-net to share information.
How secure is Bluetooth?
As far as the security is concerned over the interference of humans with any other device using Bluetooth, we should not worry.
Advantage and Concern at the same time
As we discussed above Bluetooth uses a very short range to communicate and that is one hell of an advantage and concern at the same time. The concerns usually arrive for far-range wireless networks like Wi-Fi.
When it comes to secured connection wireless is always a less secure method than wired. Tapping wireless communication is easier than wired because all the information is zapping back and forth through the open air. The reason is that encryption is being used more and more these days.
There are several ways a Bluetooth device can be hacked/bugged, a few of them is listed below-
Bluebugging: This is one of the very common hacking methods used by hackers to steal information.
Where a hacker takes over your Bluetooth without your knowledge, it is possible only when your device is at discoverable mode.
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It is common because the discoverable mode is the default mode in almost every device.
Tools Use by Hackers
There are several tools such as Redfang and BlueSniff, that allow hackers to bug your device even if it’s not in discoverable mode.
By bugging your device they can read your messages, make calls, steal personal information.
The second common method used by hackers is mostly for advertising purposes where they send messages to other people’s devices.
the method used by hackers to download information from other people’s devices specifically.
Although we can’t limit the ways one can hack your device using Bluetooth but above are the most commonly known.
By taking precautions such as turning off the Bluetooth when not in use, and other security methods this hacking can be avoided. The latest version available is Bluetooth 5 which allows faster connectivity and good range and bandwidth.