August 23, 2005

Turn off Bluetooth when parking your car

The Cambridge Evening News highlights a flaw in one of the handiest technologies around. Bluetooth is the wireless technology that allows you to exchange files between computers, mobile phones, PDAs and other wireless devices within about 10-15 feet. It is essential for using your laptop's internet connection through a mobile phone.

The paper reports a seedier side of this marvel technology:
"...Thieves in Cambridge have cottoned on to an alternative use for the function, using it as a scanner which will let them know if another Bluetooth device is locked in a car boot.

"Det Sgt Al Funge, from Cambridge's crime investigation unit, said: "There have been a number of instances of this new technology being used to identify cars which have valuable electronics, including laptops, inside."

I have left my computer on sleep in a locked car boot while nipping into the supermarket. The Bluetooth connection might be passkey protected but by its very existence thieves can tell there are goodies to be had.

You have been warned


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May be wrong on this but it's certainly the case with Macs. If your laptop is sleeping or shut down then it's not possible for another device to discover your laptop via bluetooth. Even if the laptop is set to "wake on network access" I'm fairly certain this does not apply for bluetooth scanning.

It would be the case, however, with mobile phones, PDAs, etc. Then again, I tend to be surgically attached to my mobile...

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Ewan McIntosh is a teacher, speaker and investor, regarded as one of Europe’s foremost experts in digital media for public services.

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