Bluetooth LE could be a security risk

Anthony Caruana
25 May, 2015
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It’s fair to say the Apple Watch and a number of other small devices would not be possible without the recent development of Bluetooth LE, or BLE. This is a low- energy Bluetooth transmission that makes it possible for devices to maintain almost constant connectivity without draining your battery.

However, a recent article by Contextis highlights that it’s not all as safe as we think.

Although there’s a notional limit of about 100m for sending and receiving data over BLE, it is possible under certain circumstances or using high-gain antennae to capture packers at distances of up to half a mile, or around 800m.

Using a cheap dongle from Nordic Semiconductors that comes with a sniffing application, the researchers were able to scan the area near their office and detect a wide selection of fitness trackers, primarily from FitBit, Jawbone and Garmin, as well as heart-rate monitors, a few bicycle devices and the odd Galaxy Gear.

Given the use of BLE in so many wearable devices that capture and store some very personal data, as well as their application in iBeacons and other equipment, this is very much a ‘watch this space’ story.

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