Day 6

Turn off Bluetooth / NFC / Wireless on your Devices

 
 

DAY 6: Turn Off Bluetooth / NFC / Wireless

Welcome to Day 6 of my 30 day security challenge, the month long challenge I created to help you gain control of your privacy and security online. You can follow along with the security challenge via my blog at snubsie.com, where you can skip ahead or download a checklist of the challenge. Each video will also be curated into a playlist so it'll be easy to follow along from Day 1 all the way through 30 here on Youtube.

Today is more of an educational breather that requires very little physical effort from you! All you've gotta do today is turn off your Bluetooth, NFC, and WiFi anytime you are not using them, and ONLY turn them on whenever you absolutely need to.

First off, what are these? Bluetooth, NFC, and WiFi when related to your smartphone or laptop, are ways that we allow other devices to connect to our phone or PC. For example, Bluetooth portable speakers use Bluetooth to connect to your phone so you can play music. A friends phone might use NFC to pass their contact details over to your phone so you don't have to type in those details. Wireless, as you know, allows your phone to get onto the internet via WiFi instead of using your cell phone carrier data plan. Each of these is super convenient in itself because they require very little hassle to use, but that also means that each of these has vulnerabilities that might make them "hackable".

So let's look at Bluetooth first of all. Bluetooth is used for a multitude of devices these days. While different updates to Bluetooth offer upgraded security or encryption techniques, I find it much easier to just turn off Bluetooth altogether to keep myself from being hacked. Recently, security researchers wrote about a vulnerability called BlueBorne that would allow an attacker to connect to your smartphone through Bluetooth, even if your smartphone was already connected to another device like a Bluetooth speaker. Luckily, Google and Apple are pretty good about sending out updates for stuff like this, but if you have an older phone or one on a cell phone carrier thats slow to update, you could be out of luck if you depend on that update to keep you safe. So your best bet is to go into your settings app, and find Bluetooth under Connected Devices or Connection Options and turn it off completely. Under Bluetooth options, you may have an additional setting that talks about improving location services by continually scanning for Bluetooth items around you. You can also turn off the WiFi and Bluetooth Scanning options if you don't mind a slight slowdown when using apps that require location data from your phone.

Next, turn off NFC. NFC stands for Near Field Communication and allows your phone to exchange data with another device by tapping it against that other device. Which also means if someone wanted to hack your phone via NFC all they'd have to do is bump against your phone to exchange data. So basically, just turn it off via the same settings menu via Settings, NFC under connected devices section.

Lastly is WiFi. Obviously, you probably use Wireless at your work or home. But you don't need to keep this turned on when you're out and about. You might WANT to use the open WiFi at the coffee shop or at your favorite store while you're shopping the dollar section under that big red bullseye, but open WiFi or shared public WiFi also means anyone else is on that WiFi. Other shoppers with vulnerable phones, the store's IT department, or BUM BUM BUM, a criminal. Sure, we all want to use WiFi wherever we go because the price of Cell Phone data plans is expensive! But while connecting to open WiFi might seem like a good idea even if it's "just this once", you really don't know if "just this once" is going to turn into "someone stole my data and is now holding it for ransom unless I pay them $300.".

Alongside this is another scary feature of WiFi. You know how your phone automatically connects whenever you go home? It autoconnects because it recognizes that Wireless network, so it's convenient to just connect to it instead of you manually doing it every time. An attacker could take advantage of this and force your phone to autoconnect to a fake wireless network. You may think you're connecting to your "German Pub Free WiFi", but it's actually an attacker creating a fake "German Pub Free WiFi" network. Easy way to tell: You ever connect to Starbucks WiFi or GoGo Inflight while you aren't anywhere near a Starbucks or an airplane? Chances are that wasn't a legit WiFi network. Trust me on this: my company literally built the hardware on it.

There's a setting on your phone to turn off auto connect options. Disable the "connect to open networks" option, and in your list of saved WiFi networks, hold down or click on any names that are not owned by you or your workplace, and click Forget. Assume that any saved Wireless networks that are from airplanes, airports, coffee shops, stores, doctor offices, or public networks are insecure and should be forgotten by your phone. And in the future, never ever connect to those, even just for a bit! If you absolute HAVE to, I'll discuss how to bypass some of the insecurities in a future video.

Okay! You're officially done with Day 6 and you just did some important updates to security and privacy for wireless protocols on your phone. You can take this a step further by also turning off these options on your computer, tablet, e-reader, or music player.

Tomorrow we'll chat about Anti virus and malware detection apps and software. But first, make sure to subscribe on youtube and hit up snubsie.com for the downloadable checklist and to skip ahead on the 30 day security challenge. Again, I'm Shannon Morse and I'll see you tomorrow for day 7