This malicious virus can spread through your Bluetooth
I remember when Bluetooth was one of the most remarkable things a phone could do. Being able to send notes for free (this is back in the pay as you go days) to each other from whatever username we chose made a lot of lengthy school bus journeys a lot of fun. In the year of 2017, it seems a lot less noteworthy, though we still make use of it for a range of things.
Wireless earphones are an interesting idea, albeit one that I haven't got into out of fear that I would lose the earbuds somewhere and have to buy wired ones anyway. They connect through Bluetooth, in the same way that many of us play music through speakers now, with no need for the right aux cable to hear our favourite tunes anymore.
Yet given the relatively short area it can be used over, I have never thought of Bluetooth as having the same risk factor as using WiFi, for instance. It's true that we are not vulnerable in the same way with the feature, but that doesn't mean we aren't susceptible to hacks. In fact, tech experts are now warning that there is a virus that can spread via Bluetooth, thereby accessing virtually any device with that feature.
We are used to seeing viruses come about through downloading dodgy files or using certain websites, but all this one needs is for your Bluetooth to be switched on. This new "attack vector" is called "BlueBorne", and using it, a hacker can connect to your device through Bluetooth, take control and send malicious software or access private photos, documents and information you have stored there.
The hack was discovered by security company Armis, who illustrated the dangers using a description of a delivery person whose device has been infected. Every stop in his shift can potentially infect another group of people, accessing various individuals and businesses.
This hack can control everything from smart phones to Smart TVs and even medical devices. The process requires as little as 10 seconds to complete, as long as it's within 32 feet. Apple devices tend to be pretty safe from major viruses, but apparently iOS software will be just as at risk.
Charl van der Walt, chief strategy office at security company SecureData said it's best to simply switch off Bluetooth on your phone when you're in a crowd:
"Disable the capability, particularly in crowded areas, until a patch has been released from their device manufacturer or service provider.
"This will ensure devices are safer and less likely to be compromised in crowded environments, such as community, in office environments, or even walking down the street.
While we haven't seen this 'in the wild' yet, particularly for Android users, it's more likely a case of not if, but when."
As he said, this hasn't been seen 'in the wild' yet, but it does have the potential to spread across the millions of devices that use the feature worldwide, and a lot of us won't see it coming. So maybe keep your Bluetooth usage to a minimum, or in private. I know I will.