Criminals Know Where Your Devices Are. But How?
You do everything right. Everything is locked upped tight and out of sight. Your tablet, smartphone or laptop computer is safe from thieves. So how did they know to break into your car, locker, desk or hotel room to get it? This holiday season many people will find their property lost to smash and grab thieves who magically knew where your device was. But how?
Simple technology. Devices like Bluetooth scanners are very easy to come by. Just buy one on Amazon or simpler still just download a Bluetooth scanner app from the Google Play Store or the App Store. Then take a walk through a mall parking lot or the locker room at the gym and you will easily discover exactly where every device is.
Many laptops and other Bluetooth capable devices will send out a signal when the Bluetooth is turned on. This allows other Bluetooth devices to find them and potentially pair even when closed or idle. And the thieves know this.
Some people believe this is a urban myth. But if you think so just turn on your smartphone and then turn on your Bluetooth and set the phone to ask to join. And watch the devices pop up as you walk through the mall. Anywhere there is a wifi antenna or Bluetooth device you will see it pop uo on your phone screen. Some hackers are experts at hacking Bluetooth enabled devices. Its called Bluejacking.
Law enforcement officials have confirmed that at least some burglars do use Bluetooth scanners to guide certain break-ins. “In our corridor, yes, we have noticed that they are in use,” says Monica Rueda, a crime prevention specialist at the San Jose Police Department in California. “Right now we do know that thieves are utilizing them.” Rueda declined to name specific apps or features that are in use, citing ongoing investigations.
Bluetooth sensors find nearby signals. They list everything they find and provide details like what type of device they’ve detected, if that device is currently paired to another over Bluetooth and how close the devices are within a few meters. The apps are often marketed as tools for finding lost devices, like scanning for your misplaced iWatch in the hotel room. But they’re super simple to use for thieves. And they produce better results than your phone does on its own when looking for something to pair with in your Bluetooth settings.
Device owners are warned to turn their devices off or put them in airplane mode when leaving them in a vehicle or other semi-secure location. If you can avoid it do not leave valuable technology in your car, take it with you. Turn your Bluetooth off when not using it. Thieves know how to use the technology too!
Now You Know.