BlueCast or BlueSnarfed?

    Alex Walker

    BluecastingThis morning I was browsing some of the more popular recent links and came across a nice study in contrasts.

    The first was this short YouTube presentation on the hottest and newest of hot, new technologies — Bluecasting: The proximity broadcasting system! The core of the system is a snazzy-looking, web-enabled, bluetooth broadcasting unit designed to be installed where “consumers might be likely to experience ‘dwell time’“. ‘Dwell time’ — all these years I’ve been oblivious to that it even existed when, by all reports, I’ve been actually experiencing it for many years at the various train stations, airports, sporting facilities and retail strips I’ve encountered. To think I never even knew.

    Once installed the BlueCasting system automatically locates any discoverable, bluetooth-enabled device within range (approx 100m) and then goes about offering it a selection of location-specific content, including but not limited to:

    • Images,
    • Audio,
    • Video,
    • Interactive Content
    • Games &
    • Retail offers

    BluecastingAs a potential content creator for and consumer of this service, I thought ‘Hooray for bluetooth!‘ and as the presentation faded to black, I flipped my phone to ‘discoverable’ — just in case I might stumble across one of these happy, magical lands.

    Moments later, as is YouTube’s way, I was offered another video on a related subject — ‘Real Hustle Bluesnarfing‘. A relatively convincing demonstration followed where a PocketPC user in a busy london station was able to easily locate discoverable Bluetooth devices with a known security flaw, and then take complete control of them in seconds.

    Apart from the obvious privacy concerns of divulging your contacts, emails and SMS content to a malicious stranger, the real sting came when the scammer was able to make silent calls via the attacked phone to his own 1800 number — charged at £1.50/min. That could get very nasty very quickly.

    At the end the experts shook their heads gravely and sternly advised “Never leave Bluetooth on when you’re not using it!”

    ‘Bad Bluetooth!,.. Bad!’ I thought and immediately switched mine back to non-discoverable.