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Bluetooth is a method for data communication that uses short-range
radio links to replace cables between computers and their connected
units. Many companies have been mulling over this idea, but it was
Ericsson Mobile Communication that finally (in 1994) started the
project that was named Bluetooth.
As computerized implementations have grown and become
increasingly more common in our environment, there has also been a
growing need for cables of varying kinds, to tie all these units together
and ensure communication between them. These cables, when they
grow into a multitude, are not only unsightly but also increasingly
cumbersome to handle, both directly and (even more so) indirectly.
Consider this list of drawbacks (below):
The Bluetooth Standard
A fundamental Bluetooth wireless technology strength is the ability to
simultaneously handle both data and voice transmissions. This
enables users to enjoy variety of innovative solutions such as a hands-
free headset for voice calls, printing and fax capabilities, and
synchronizing PDA, laptop, and mobile phone applications to name a
Core Specification Versions
Version Data Rate Version 1.2 1 Mbit/s Version 2.0 + EDR 3 Mbit/s
Version 3.0 + HS 24 Mbit/s
Unlike many other wireless standards, the Bluetooth wireless
specification gives product developers both link layer and application
layer definitions, which supports data and voice applications
Bluetooth technology operates in the unlicensed industrial, scientific
and medical (ISM) band at 2.4 to 2.485 GHz, using a spread
spectrum, frequency hopping, full-duplex signal at a nominal rate of
1600 hops/sec. The 2.4 GHz ISM band is available and unlicensed in
Country Frequency Range Channels available
2400 - 2483.5 MHz 2402 to 2480 MHz (79
Japan 2471 - 2479 MHz 2473 to 2495 MHz (23
Spain 2445 - 2475 MHz 2449 to 2471 MHz (23
France 2446.5 - 2483.5
2454 to 2476 MHz (23
Bluetooth technology’s adaptive frequency hopping (AFH) capability
was designed to reduce interference between wireless technologies
sharing the 2.4 GHz spectrum. AFH works within the spectrum to take
advantage of the available frequency. This is done by detecting other
devices in the spectrum and avoiding the frequencies they are using.
This adaptive hopping allows for more efficient transmission within the
spectrum, providing users with greater performance even if using other
technologies along with Bluetooth technology. The signal hops among
79 frequencies at 1 MHz intervals to give a high degree of interference
The operating range depends on the device class:
Class 3 radios – have a range of up to 1 meter or 3 feet
Class 2 radios – most commonly found in mobile devices – have
a range of 10 meters or 30 feet
Class 1 radios – used primarily in industrial use cases – have a
range of 100 meters or 300 feet
The most commonly used radio is Class 2 and uses 2.5 mW of power.
Bluetooth technology is designed to have very low power consumption.
This is reinforced in the specification by allowing radios to be powered
down when inactive
Version Data Rate Version 1.2 1 Mbit/s Version 2.0 + EDR 3 Mbit/s
Version 3.0 + HS 24 Mbit/s
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 4000 member manufacturers,
has a Bluetooth security experts group made up of engineers from
its member companies who provide critical security information and
feedback that is taken into account as the Bluetooth wireless
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
There are many security attacks in Bluetooth world like blue jacking,
blue bugging and Car Whisperer I will explain each one in details:
as for blue jacking, it allows phone users to send business cards
anonymously using Bluetooth wireless technology. Blue jacking does
NOT involve the removal or alteration of any data from the device.
These business cards often have a clever or flirtatious message rather
than the typical name and phone number. Blue hackers often look for
the receiving phone to ping or the user to react. They then send
another, more personal message to that device. Once again, in order
to carry out a blue jacking, the sending and receiving devices must be
within 10 meters of one another. Phone owners who receive blue jack
messages should refuse to add the contacts to their address book.
Devices that are set in non-discoverable mode are not susceptible to
On the other hand blue bugging allows skilled individuals to access
the mobile phone commands using Bluetooth wireless technology
without notifying or alerting the phone’s user. This vulnerability allows
the hacker to initiate phone calls, send and receive text messages,
read and write phonebook contacts, eavesdrop on phone
conversations, and connect to the Internet. As with all the attacks,
without specialized equipment, the hacker must be within a 10 meter
range of the phone. This is a separate vulnerability from bluesnarfing
and does not affect all of the same phones as bluesnarfing.
Another security attack is Bluesnarfing, which allows hackers to gain
access to data stored on a Bluetooth enabled phone using Bluetooth
wireless technology without alerting the phone’s user of the connection
made to the device. The information that can be accessed in this
manner includes the phonebook and associated images, calendar, and
IMEI (international mobile equipment identity). By setting the device in
non-discoverable, it becomes significantly more difficult to find and
attack the device. Without specialized equipment the hacker must be
within a 10 meter range of the device while running a device with
specialized software. Only specific older Bluetooth enabled phones are
susceptible to bluesnarfing.
Finally what is Car Whisperer?
The car whisperer is a software tool developed by security researchers
to connect to and send or receive audio to and from Bluetooth car-kits
with a specific implementation. An individual using the tool could
potentially remotely connect to and communicate with a car from an
unauthorized remote device, sending audio to the speakers and
receiving audio from the microphone in the remote device. Without
specialized equipment, someone using the tool must be within a 10
meter range of the targeted car while running a laptop with the car
whisperer tool. The security researchers’ goal was to highlight an
implementation weakness in a select number of Bluetooth enabled car-
kits and pressure manufacturers to better secure Bluetooth enabled
Different Types of Connectivity Compared
To start off the discussion, here is a table to show the major
differences between the main types of wireless connectivity and
Type Speed Range Comments
Wi-Fi 1Mb - 54Mb
Range of about
10 m (33 ft).
Wi-Fi refers to any of the
three 802.11 types of
wireless service below,
and to future new
subcategories yet to be
released. Acts like a
regular wired network in
most respects. Either built
in or available as add-on
cards or adapters for
30ft - 300ft
Class 3 devices (e.g. in
most personal computing
type devices) have a short
30ft range, high powered
Class 1 devices have the
longer range. Either built in
or available as add-on
A largely futuristic
technology not much
deployed (yet) in the US
which promises amazingly
fast data transfer. Sprint
PCS Vision and AT&T
EDGE (100-130kb) are the
closest things to 3G in the
US at present.
Is Bluetooth a Wireless LAN (WLAN)?
No, Bluetooth is not intended as a wireless extension of ordinary LANs.
Both Bluetooth and WLANs are based upon the IEEE 802.11-standard.
But there are too many differences for these systems to replace each
Bluetooth hops very fast (1600 hops/second) between
frequencies, which does not allow for long data blocks. A
Bluetooth channel cannot handle as high data throughput as a
Bluetooth relies on ad-hoc-connectivity. This does not square
well with (predominantly) server-based LANs.
The problem: It uses the 2.4 GHz radio frequency, the same used by
wireless LANs based on the IEEE 802.11 standard. But these two
technologies have different functions. Bluetooth requires little power
and is meant for transmitting small amounts of data (at 1Mbps) over
short distances (up to 10 meters). 802.11 connections can range in
transmission rates from 2 Mbps to 11 Mbps and at distances from 15
to about 100 meters.
Bluetooth promises to be a low cost, convenient, and simple way of
enabling your various computer devices to talk to each other and to
their peripherals. The reality has yet to match the promise, but
Bluetooth is becoming more widespread and functional every day.
Bluetooth is almost certainly in your future