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You are here: Home >>Mobile Security Systems >> Wireless Security

Wireless Security 

 

Today's wireless world means that data is being sent, among us, invisibly from device to device, country to country, person to person. This data, in the form of e-mails, photos, contacts and addresses are precious and private to each of us. This private information, no longer making its way along wires in plain sight, needs to be sent securely to its intended recipient without interception. Wireless standards the world over are evolving and have various formats for dealing with the security issues of its users. Bluetooth wireless technology is no exception.

 

 

Bluetooth wireless technology has, from its inception, put great emphasis on wireless security so that users of this global standard can feel secure while making their connections. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), made up of over 3000 member manufacturers, has a Bluetooth Security Experts Group made up of engineers from its member companies, which provide critical security information and feedback that is taken into account as the Bluetooth wireless specification evolves.

Product developers that use Bluetooth wireless technology in their products have several options for implementing security. There are three modes of security for Bluetooth access between two devices.
  • Security Mode 1: non-secure
  • Security Mode 2: service level enforced security
  • Security Mode 3: link level enforced security

Dealing with mobile security threats

The manufacturer of each product determines these security modes. Devices and services also have different security levels. For devices, there are 2 levels, "trusted device" and "untrusted device". A trusted device, having been paired with one’s other device, has unrestricted access to all services. With regard to services, three security levels are defined: services that require authorization and authentication, services that require authentication only and services that are open to all devices.
Lately, confusion and misinformation surrounding security and Bluetooth wireless technology has increased. The current security issues typically involve mobile phones. How these issues apply to other classes of devices is important and is often not addressed. The encryption algorithm in the Bluetooth specifications is secure. As such, once paired, the communication between Bluetooth devices is also secure. This includes devices such as mice and keyboards connecting to a PC, a mobile phone synchronizing with a PC, and a PDA using a mobile phone as a modem to name just a few of the many use cases.
Cases where data has been compromised on mobile phones are the result of implementation issues on that platform. The Bluetooth SIG diligently works with our members to investigate any issues that are reported to understand the root cause of the issue. If it is a specification issue, we work with the membership to address that issue in the specification. If it is an implementation issue, we work with the membership to get patches out and ensure future devices don’t suffer from the same vulnerability. This is an on-going process. The recently reported issues of advanced "hackers" gaining access to information stored on select mobile phones using Bluetooth functionality are due to incorrect implementation. The names bluesnarfing and bluebugging have been given to these methods of illegal and improper access to information. The questions and answers below provide users with more information about these current issues and will address their concerns for dealing with these security risks.

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