Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technologies are very useful, and they are often set up to connect seamlessly to other devices or networks with no input from the user. As you move from home to Starbucks, your network connection just works; or from a headset to your car, Bluetooth keeps your phone calls connected. What you may not realize is that these radio protocols are constantly announcing your presence, and they are capturing information about other wireless protocols around you. These protocols work by looking for beacons that match your saved connection profiles. All of this activity is happening constantly and is visible and trackable by anyone who is interested.
What can you do?
Turn off your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth if you aren’t actually using them. Disable automatic connections to your wireless profiles, and save only wireless profiles that you actually need to save. When you have Wi-Fi profiles saved on your device, your Wi-Fi radio is sending out requests for those profiles and essentially advertising what coffee you prefer, the hotels you’ve stayed at, where you work, airports you’ve visited, and the name of your network at home.
If your mobile device or computer is set for automatic connections, anyone interested could say, I’m that network, and connect to your device, then wait for your network requests to pass through their hands. And for various smartphone applications, the combination of GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi offer great data sets for companies like Apple and Google to map out where you have been and what is around you.
So turn off the radios you aren’t actively using to ensure you are connecting to the network or device that you expect to. Doing so will decrease risk, increase privacy, and as an added bonus, improve battery life too.
Please take a moment to consider this information. If you have questions, please be sure to contact your organization’s IT department for assistance.