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How to Stop Eavesdropping on Bluetooth

by Elizabeth Smith, Demand Media

    With Bluetooth technology integrated in everything from mobile phones to car audio systems, it is no difficult task for unauthorized hackers to gain access to your device. If another person can eavesdrop on your call, you might unwittingly reveal sensitive information that can compromise personal and digital security. To prevent eavesdropping on your Bluetooth devices, take steps to protect your connection and limit access.

    Protecting Your PIN

    Many Bluetooth devices use a default PIN and a default device name; as a result, it is easy for anyone to gain access. The Better Business Bureau recommends that you change your PIN from the default option, which is often "0000." Instead, use a PIN that is at least eight characters long. With most devices, you must change the PIN directly on the device itself. The location of the setting varies by model and manufacturer; on Epson printers, for example, it is located in the "Bluetooth Settings" area of the "Setup" menu.

    Making Devices Undiscoverable

    Eavesdropping can happen even when you are not connected to a Bluetooth device; in some cases, an individual can access your phone or tablet's microphone to hear what's happening around you. The fastest way to increase security and prevent eavesdropping is to turn Bluetooth off and set your devices to be undiscoverable. Although it will take a few more seconds each time you want to connect a device, you will prevent access to your Bluetooth device any time it is not in use.

    Pairing in Private

    According to Search Security, your Bluetooth devices are the most vulnerable when they are in pairing mode. At that point, they are actively searching for other devices, which makes it easier for eavesdroppers to gain access. Search Security recommends that you avoid pairing Bluetooth devices in crowded public spaces like coffee shops or train stations. Instead, move to a place away from other people. Keep track of all of your Bluetooth connections and never accept unknown pairing requests.

    Installing Software Updates

    Occasionally, Bluetooth security weaknesses are due to holes in the software. When the manufacturer discovers a vulnerability, it will usually release a software update to patch the problem. To ensure that your devices are equipped with the strongest protection, the Better Business Bureau recommends that you install security updates as soon as they are released.

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    About the Author

    Elizabeth Smith has been a scientific and engineering writer since 2004. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, newspapers and corporate publications. A frequent traveler, she also has penned articles as a travel writer. Smith has a Bachelor of Arts in communications and writing from Michigan State University.

    Photo Credits

    • Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images

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