Bluetooth is a very convenient technology, allowing you to pair many different devices together wirelessly for ease of use. While its simplicity is nice, it can also make it easier for people to hack into or connect to your Bluetooth devices if you’re not careful. Some people might want to take advantage of your devices (for example, printing from your Bluetooth printer) while others may intend to steal information, wreak havoc on your files, or cause other mischief.
There are several things you can do to prevent people from connecting to your Bluetooth devices. This article focuses specifically on protecting your cell phone, but these tips can apply to other devices as well.
Depending on your specific cell phone, you’ll have different Bluetooth options and settings available, but the same general advice applies to all phones. If your phone is not paired with another Bluetooth device at any time, turn its Bluetooth capability off to avoid an unknown device from trying to connect to it. Even if you are paired with a device, you should still turn off Bluetooth discovery (so other devices can’t see your phone) as well as auto pairing (which can allow a device you’re not familiar with to connect to your phone without your approval).
On most phones you can access all of these settings from a single Bluetooth menu, which is usually found on the main menu, or under a sub-menu called something like Settings, Configuration, or Connections. If Bluetooth is currently enabled on your phone, you should see the little Bluetooth icon (a weird-looking white B inside a blue oval) somewhere on the main screen.
Depending on your phone and the device or devices you typically pair it with, you may or may not be required to enter a passcode to make the connection. If your phone requires a passcode in order for a device to pair with it and you’re able to change the code, make it something harder to guess than “0000” or “1234” (which are the default codes for many devices).
By following these simple tips, and by occasionally glancing at your phone to see if it is connected to a device or personal area network (PAN) that you’re not familiar with, you can keep strangers from connecting to your phone and either causing damage or stealing data. As Bluetooth gets more and more popular, more people will try to use it to their advantage, so the more protected and knowledgeable you are, the better.