This post was originally published on August 21, 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Bluetooth is the technology that allows electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, portable speakers, digital assistants, wearable fitness trackers and home security equipment to wirelessly connect to each other through a network.

Bluetooth is everywhere. In 2018, it was predicted that almost 4 billion Bluetooth devices would be shipped. The technology is in our homes, cars, phones and more, meaning we carry it with us every place we go.

But, as this wireless technology continues to evolve, cyber attacks are becoming a major threat. This means almost every Bluetooth connected device is open to cyber attack. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid these risks when utilizing Bluetooth technology. Below, we explain the cyber risk and offer tips to properly secure your devices.

What is BlueBorne?

In September 2017, researchers at Armis Labs discovered a new cyber attack called BlueBorne. Unlike traditional cyber attacks that require victims to click on a link or download a file, BlueBorne is spread “through the air” and allows hackers to access devices via Bluetooth.

When Bluetooth is activated, hackers take control of the device(s) and spread malware that goes completely unnoticed by the user. Additionally, once an infected device comes within range of other Bluetooth enabled systems, the virus can spread from one user to another.

BlueBorne can affect almost any devices operating on Android, Windows, Linux and iOS software without proper software updates. This means almost every computer, mobile device, smart appliance or other internet of things (IoT) devices running on the dated operating systems could be hacked.

How Can You Prevent BlueBorne?

With an estimated 20.4 billion IoT devices by 2020, it’s imperative users take the following precautions to avoid a BlueBorne attack:

  • Update all software and passwords. Following the discovery of BlueBorne, many device manufacturers released updates to diminish risk surrounding the virus. Update all devices and regularly change passwords.
  • Turn Bluetooth services off when they’re not in use. Turning your Bluetooth setting to invisible makes it harder for hackers to discover your device, thus making it more difficult for them to steal your data.
  • Never use public Wi-Fi networks. These connections are unsecure. We recommend you disable automatic connections to public networks to keep your device from connecting to an untrustworthy source without your knowledge.
  • Consider a virtual protected network (VPN). VPNs are available for download in app stores and offer a more secure way to connect while on the go.

Cyber security should not be taken lightly. Work with a trusted security provider to properly equip your devices with the latest software for the best cyber protection.