Oct 9 · 4 min read
DataTransfer SmartDevices PersonalData Bluetooth CyberSecurity IoT InternetofThings
Mashable was acting like a drama queen when they stated that Bluetooth is bad and we should stop using it. That's like saying, "Don't go outside when it's raining because you're going to get wet." How about using an umbrella? Before falling into the trap of this mass fear, ask yourself, “To trust or not to trust Bluetooth?”. We did the homework for you, and here are some arguments for you to digest.
The sure thing is that no matter its shape or complexity, technology is made to improve our lives, as minions do. Smartphones, gadgets, techie accessories, sensors, smart home appliances, and the list can go on and on. These devices are even partnering up to identify the best way to serve you.
Let’s exercise your power of imagination:
you are playing your favorite jam on an external speaker from your phone by using your smartwatch;
you are setting the coffee machine to prepare your favorite coffee while still cuddling in bed;
you are checking your home security system when still dealing with tasks at the office.
Isn’t it amazing that we got to the point when gadgets communicate with each other in real-time? To do so, they use either WiFi, Bluetooth, or cable (for remembering the old days). Bluetooth Technology is the most popular way of connecting those devices, especially for short-range communication.
The endless struggle of untangling the headphones made us hate the cables. Still, why does one choose Bluetooth over WiFi? It provides a wireless connection to exchange data over short distances. We would say, it’s not the strongest asset over WiFi. But Bluetooth also got in its resume low power consumption, simplicity in use, reliability, and immunity to interferences from other wireless devices. Moreover, this technology standard can be used in the presence of obstacles and can be easily integrated on all types of devices using just a small chip.
So, are the Bluetooth days really numbered? According to the Bluetooth annual report, the need for Bluetooth Technology is continuously growing. It has reached the number of 3,9 billion devices shipped by 2018.
We are not done yet choosing the best connection. There are two major Bluetooth technologies you can go for - Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). The essential difference between these two is power consumption.
Classic Bluetooth is excellent for applications that require continuous streaming of data, for example, headphones. On the other hand, Bluetooth Low Energy is suitable for applications that work with a periodic transfer of data, usually for one-way communication, which reduces a significant amount of battery usage. It is perfectly suitable for IoT and proximity marketing-related applications.
A wide variety of industries started to rely on BLE, for example, health monitors, industrial monitoring sensors, asset tracking, indoor navigation, targeted promotions (iBeacon), public transportation apps, and the list of devices that use Bluetooth goes on and on.
Like any other technology, Bluetooth has had its ups and downs, but all the vulnerabilities have been backed up with significant security improvements. Should we entrust Bluetooth with our personal data then? Some people suggest that you better turn Bluetooth off. That’s the only way to be safe. False! You can be cyber secure if you know how this technology works and how to control it.
For instance, all apps that use Bluetooth and need your location or personal info knock on your screen to ask permission. Also, they come with a very clear description of the reasons why the app requires access to your data. Read this information and allow access only if you consider it necessary.
In case you always rush to accept all Terms and Conditions with your eyes closed, the system has got your back. You can check what apps are using your location or Bluetooth in the device settings, and you can disable this if you don’t use those features within the app.
As well, whenever the app uses Bluetooth (in the background, for scanning something, or when approaching a store that uses beacons), the operating system will remind you that an app uses Bluetooth. You can choose to let the app use it or turn this function off. You have full control.
To trust or not to trust Bluetooth, that is the question. Technology has a crunch time fixing vulnerabilities. But it happens once in a blue moon and is not worth your stress. The easiest way to protect your data is to give up on technology. But is it necessary?
Keep in mind that we are in control of the products and apps we use. Before turning Bluetooth off, check the ways it affects you and your rights over it. Also, keep them updated to the latest software/firmware version because it usually comes with the most advanced protection from security breaches.
Use smart devices wisely and make sure you don’t trust everything you read on the Internet, event this article. Do your own research and weight what’s vital for you. At the end of the day, Bluetooth is not a monster we should be afraid of. Instead, we should learn how to use it correctly and, overall, get the maximum benefit from technology.
iOS Developer at Wolfpack Digital