With the emergence of Bluetooth technology, more businesses are including the technology into the products. Before making any business decisions related to manufacturing Bluetooth enabled devices, the managers of the vendor firm must consider all the technology risks and security issues involved with introducing Bluetooth in the products. Failure to comply with the security protocols during the development of Bluetooth enabled devices makes the device unsafe for use, poses a security threat to the Bluetooth user, and jeopardizes the reputation of the vendor firm (Business Editors, 2000, p.
The managers must ensure that all devices are properly tested for security flaws and that the devices contain at least the basic security features (Business Editors, 2000, p. 1). Bluetooth technology finds most use in mobile devices such as cell phones, PDAs, smart phones etc. The security issues of Bluetooth are coming more into limelight as Bluetooth’s popularity is on the rise. The pairing process between the Bluetooth devices opens the room for security breach.
The easily decipherable PINs of the Bluetooth devices also leave the device vulnerable to security attacks. To make matters worse, most Bluetooth devices have a default security setting of 1 (non-secure mode), thereby allowing Bluetooth devices to “talk” to each other without the need of authentication and encryption (Bluetooth SIG, Inc. , 2008) The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have released an extensive list of known Bluetooth security issues (Karygiannis & Owens, 2002, p.
The listed problems range from less complex ones such as the short length (and hence easily decipherable) and reusability of the PIN to more complex ones such as the use of device authentication over user authentication (Karygiannis & Owens, 2002, p. 76-77). According to NIST, the security loopholes can subject a user to loss of confidentiality, eavesdropping and impersonation, and denial of service, to name a few (Karygiannis & Owens, 2002, p.77-80).
Loss One of the biggest security flaws of the Bluetooth system is that compromised Bluetooth devices (unauthorized devices) can continue to access the information of authorized Bluetooth devices. “Moreover, the compromised device may still have network or information privileges, resulting in a compromise of the wider network as well” (Karygiannis & Owens, 2002, p. 77-78).
As the Bluetooth system uses device authentication over user authentication, the unauthorized pairing or talking of the Bluetooth devices may result in the transfer of the authorized user’s ID and password to the unauthorized device, thus making the device susceptible to further attacks. Eavesdropping and Breach of Privacy Eavesdropping, in the most basic terms, means to spy on conversations between people. Eavesdropping causes a threat to an individual’s/ organization’s integrity. The illegal access to information leads to tampering with that data.
The resulting corrupted data can be easily spread all over the network without the knowledge of that individual or organization, and much to the annoyance of the other Bluetooth device users (Niem, 2002, p. 12-14). Depending upon the way data is illegally accessed and used in a Bluetooth network, eavesdropping is given different names such as Bluejacking, Bluesnarfing and Bluebugging, which are explained below:
Denial of service (DoS) attacks hinder authorized Bluetooth users from using network resources. DoS attacks can be conducted by either causing the user to miss calls as the attacker could remotely turn off the user’s device (or jam the signal) or causing the device’s battery to drain out by downloading and installing programs which would keep the device extremely busy (Niem, 2002, p. 17-19). The Bluetooth manufacturers must be aware of the Bluetooth security flaws, and hence work towards taking appropriate measures to protect the device users.
Either a Bluetooth device could have an in-built default setting to non-discoverable mode to prevent detection by other malicious Bluetooth users or various software patches could be provided by the manufacturers, and newer, more secure Bluetooth versions could be used in the Bluetooth products. Key Buzz Words Associated with Bluetooth Technology Knowing the definitions of a few important terms would be helpful when trying to understand the working, history, current state, security issues and future of Bluetooth technology. A glossary of Bluetooth related important terms is as follows:
“A network typically created in a spontaneous manner. An ad hoc network requires no formal infrastructure and is limited in temporal and spatial extent” (Bluetooth SIG, Inc. , 2008, Glossary section, para 1)
Bluetooth enabled devices use the short-range wireless Bluetooth system to communicate both voice and data (Bluetooth SIG, Inc. , 2008).
“Is the repeated switching of frequencies during radio transmission, often to minimize the effectiveness of ‘electronic warfare’ – that is, the unauthorized interception or jamming of telecommunications” (SearchNetworking.com, 2007, para 1)
“Mbps stands for millions of bits per second or megabits per second and is a measure of bandwidth (the total information flow over a given time) on a telecommunications medium” (SearchNetworking, 2007, para 2)
Pairing helps two Bluetooth enabled devices to bond with each other using a link key. The link key is then used by the devices for future authentication and communication (Palowireless. com, n. d. ).
PAN describes how two or more Bluetooth enabled devices can form an ad-hoc network and how the same mechanism can be used to access a remote network through a network access point. The profile roles include the network access point, group ad-hoc network and personal area network user” (Bluetooth SIG, Inc. , 2008, Glossary section, para 69)
“A collection of devices connected via Bluetooth technology in an ad hoc fashion. A piconet starts with two connected devices, such as a portable PC and cellular phone, and may grow to eight connected devices” (Palowireless. com, n. d., Piconet section, para 1)
Bluetooth technology has revolutionized the communication world by enabling voice and data transfer between Bluetooth enabled devices. Probably the most heard of Bluetooth application is the wireless functionality provided in computer systems such as laptops and in mobile devices such as cell phones and PDAs. A wide range of Bluetooth enabled accessories such as headsets, hands-free, keyboards, cordless mouse, laptop speakers, printers, USB adapters, and GPS receivers are being sold by Bluetooth vendors.
But Bluetooth’s functionality is not limited only to the computer industry. Bluetooth has become immensely popular not only in the automotive industry and the medical field but also in the day-to-day functioning of organizations. Bluetooth in the Car Car manufacturers have gone a long way from providing hands-free applications of Bluetooth to making Bluetooth a part of the car’s integrated systems. Right from being able to answer calls at the touch of a button to voice-reading text messages, Bluetooth devices do all (Quain, 2007).
Systems such as Ford’s Sync, which is “a fully integrated, voice activated, in-car communication and entertainment system” (Ford Motor Company, 2008), and Bluetooth-enabled ElmScan 5 Wireless, which is “a device used to read diagnostic codes via a car’s on-board diagnostics plug” (Quain, 2007) are the latest Bluetooth craze in the automotive industry. Bluetooth in the Hospital Bluetooth technology has recently entered the medical field and by far the biggest contribution has been to help a double amputee, Marine Lance Cpl.
Joshua Bleill, to walk again (Shaughnessy, 2008). Bluetooth in the Office A Bluetooth network in the office can make computer networking simple, and connect all computer systems such as PCs, printers, scanners etc. wirelessly (Gupta, n. d. ). Bluetooth makes the exchange of information and data synchronization easy by automating the daily activities of the work place (Gupta, n. d. ). The Future of Bluetooth Technology Wireless technology is here to stay and Bluetooth is the next big thing. Bluetooth is, slowly but surely, becoming the new wireless standard.
The wireless market already boasts of a huge number of Bluetooth devices, with thousands of new products expecting to enter the market in the near future. The number of companies investing huge amounts of money in Bluetooth is also on the rise, thereby asserting the idea that Bluetooth technology certainly has a bright future. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) is working very hard towards introducing new better versions of Bluetooth, integrating Bluetooth and other wireless technologies and introducing new industries to Bluetooth, all in an attempt to eliminate the current issues associated with Bluetooth.
Bluetooth creators and manufacturers have been under the knife not only for deploying poor security features in the Bluetooth devices but also for using complex processes to pair the Bluetooth devices. In a recent announcement, the Bluetooth SIG shared detailed information of the new Bluetooth Version 2. 1 + Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) (Bluetooth SIG, Inc. , 2008). The new version would ease the pairing process, enhance performance of Bluetooth devices, result in lower power consumption and exhibit improved security measures (Bluetooth SIG, Inc., 2008).
One can expect the technology behind Bluetooth to only get better with time. Bluetooth SIG has decided to partner Bluetooth with Wi-Fi (802. 11), WiMedia Ultra-Wideband (UWB) and various other technologies. Few perks of the above mentioned partnerships are as follows: a. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi (802. 11): Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled devices use the same frequency band 2. 402-2. 480 GHz. The plan would be that “the Bluetooth software stack run over high-bandwidth 802.
Wi-Fi radios, in addition to the short-range, 1M to 3Mbps Bluetooth radios in use today” (Cox, 2008). The coexistence of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi together would result in better performance (a result of availability of higher bandwidth) and higher speeds (a result of faster data rates). b. Bluetooth and WiMedia UWB: In the future, Bluetooth SIG is planning to launch version 3. 0 in collaboration with WiMedia Alliance (Merritt, 2008). The resulting devices would have the high-speed advantage of UWB and the low cost, low power advantage of Bluetooth.
A change of current Bluetooth speed of 3Mbps to UWB speed of 480Mbps would improve the download and transfer speeds of videos and music many folds (Quain, 2007) Entering Untapped Businesses Companies are coming out of the comfort zone and exploring new possibilities with Bluetooth. Not only the computer industry, but also the mobile commerce industry, automotive industry, and medical field, to name a few, are making full use of the advantages of the Bluetooth technology. Manufacturers are getting innovative and constantly finding new ways to implement Bluetooth into products.
Bluetooth is a groundbreaking short-range wireless technology. Many manufacturers are hopping onto the Bluetooth bandwagon and the technology is seen as a common feature in many products. The paper Bluetooth Technology focused on the: 1) explanation of Bluetooth technology, 2) key technology vendors, 3) history and current state of Bluetooth technology, 4) managerial/business issues surrounding Bluetooth technology, 5) key buzz words associated with Bluetooth technology, 6) examples of Bluetooth technology and their use, and 7) the future of Bluetooth technology.