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How Your Phone Can Be Tracked via Bluetooth?

If you’ve lost your cell phone, it’s a great relief when you can track it and find it again. The only problem is that it is possible not only for you to find out where your smartphone is but also for others. Most mobile phones can be tracked quite easily via Bluetooth, and your whereabouts can be determined easily. In the article, we will show you how the location via Bluetooth works and how you can better protect your privacy in everyday life.

This is how Bluetooth signals reveal your location

Research from the University of California concluded that every smartphone, as well as every other Bluetooth-enabled device, emits unique radio signals. These can be assigned and can therefore reveal where you are at the moment. Unfortunately, it is not always enough if you simply deactivate your Bluetooth. You would have to switch off your device completely to prevent these radio signals.

In general, all devices with Bluetooth enabled to try to protect your privacy by randomizing the network addresses, for example. However, there are enough identifying features in the radio waves for attackers to be able to circumvent these defense mechanisms. The whole thing is comparable to a fingerprint on the physical transmission level.

Depending on the device, the “fingerprints” could be recognized with varying degrees of ease. In particular, those from iPhones were much lighter and perceptible from a greater distance than those from Android devices. But the Android devices were also more similar.

The study also found that equipment to track Bluetooth devices costs around $200, and their signals weren’t as easy to track in public places. However, once the signal profile of a device was known, the experts were able to track it with an accuracy of 96 percent.

Here’s how you can prevent from being located

How much you can do to prevent tracking via Bluetooth depends heavily on which platform you are using. With Android devices, the corresponding technology is mainly used for warning apps and the like. In this case, it helps a lot if you uninstall it.

If you’re using a Windows device, there’s one more feature you should disable. This feature is used to transfer information between devices that are close to each other. To deactivate, open the settings, then go to privacy and other devices. Here you can then uncheck the Communicate with unpaired devices box.

For both Android and Windows devices, deactivating Bluetooth can be used to limit so-called “beaconing.” However, this does not seem to apply to Apple devices. For example, the Bluetooth signals are used here for the Where is my phone? app, and it also uses the AirDrop feature. Even if you turn off Bluetooth, some features will still send signals. Applications like Where is my phone? disabling and the like can prevent a large part of the beaconing, but important functions are also lost in the process. So you have to decide for yourself how you want to handle this.

These tricks can protect your digital privacy

So that you and your data are better protected in everyday life, you should stick to the following tips:

  • Use a virtual private network (VPN). If you’re wondering, “so, how should I hide my IP?” here’s your answer. You can also create a private network within a public internet connection. If you are looking for a good VPN provider, the best thing to do is to read through many reviews online.
  • Always only pass on as much personal data about yourself as is really necessary.
  • Set the right privacy settings on social networks.
  • Familiarize yourself with the privacy policy of services before using them.
  • Think carefully about which permissions you grant to which services. If in doubt, you can withdraw access authorizations at any time.
  • Always use a lock pin for your mobile devices or activate face or fingerprint recognition. This is important if your device is lost or even stolen.
  • Don’t go without a reliable security solution on any of your devices. In addition, you should not ignore the associated updates but always install them promptly.

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