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Do you want to turn off Bluetooth on your smartphone?  One study raises doubts about this “safety”.

Do you want to turn off Bluetooth on your smartphone? One study raises doubts about this “safety”.

One research finger points to one of the possibilities of Bluetooth Low Energy: it makes it possible to identify and monitor the device even if Bluetooth is disabled.

Source: Sahej Brar at Unsplash

Source: Sahej Brar at Unsplash

A team of researchers from the University of California at San Diego recently published A thorough study Bluetooth fits our smartphones in low energy. The study points out that the devices we carry every day, such as smartphones or smartwatches, regardless of brand, are vulnerable to damage that allows for more accurate tracking.

Risk Bluetooth is connected to low power (BLE). It is a ubiquitous technology in mobile devices that can detect the presence of other devices by their proximity. It is at the heart of technology Apple AirDacs, Amazon Tile or Samsung Galaxy SmartTags +.

As a reminder, mobile phones constantly generate random identifiers that are exchanged with other devices that have a specific application installed to identify close contacts.

Explained in the study entitled Evaluation of physical layer BLE location tracking attacks on mobile devices, Most modern Bluetooth low power devices emit slightly different signals, meaning they can be monitored individually and identified more accurately.

Researchers have selected a list of popular devices and found that they can successfully identify yours “Digital Embraces” Wireless. These devices include the iPhone X, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, 2016 Apple MacBook Pro,Apple Watch Series 4, The Google Pixel5 Or The Pose Quiet Comfort35.

Your connected device will leave “fingerprints” everywhere

The University of San Diego team worked on six restaurants, a college library and a restaurant, each site for approximately one hour. During this period they were able to collect data from 162 Bluetooth devices, and found that 40% were uniquely identifiable.

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They also installed a Bluetooth LE beacon tracker at the exit from the busy site. They stayed there for 20 hours and collected 647 personal Mac addresses. They were able to identify 47.1% of them, while 15% were not properly identified.

We can not talk about vulnerability, it is a function allowed by BLE. However, the iPhone, for example, is harder to follow than other devices. BLE on iPhones includes two features for data privacy: address randomization and cross-transport key derivation.

Address randomization is a feature that reduces the ability to monitor the BLE device for a period of time by changing the address of the Bluetooth device frequently. Since iOS 13, iPhones are also capable Receive keys Connection by transport.

Even if disabled, Bluetooth still sends

They also noticed that even though the devices were turned off, they continued to emit Bluetooth signals.. Therefore, disabling the device’s Bluetooth does not reduce the chances of being tracked, the researchers say.

So, turning off the device would be a tough solution. But not all devices have this, again the iPhone Can constantly send signals For operation Find out. This functionality allows you to detect even if your smartphone’s battery is flat.

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