It is possible to track individuals using Bluetooth signals. So say researchers from the University of California San Diego. They discovered that the Bluetooth signals that mobile phones continuously transmit have a unique fingerprint. This can be used to track individuals. This has never been demonstrated before.
Unique fingerprints unintended result
All mobile devices, including phones, smartwatches and fitness trackers, continuously transmit Bluetooth signals. These signals ensure, among other things, that you can find your phone in Apple’s ‘Find My’ network. For example, corona apps and wireless headphones also use Bluetooth signals.
However, all wireless devices have minor hardware manufacturing flaws that are unique to each device. The researchers call this an “accidental by-product of the production process”. These imperfections in Bluetooth hardware create unique distortions in the signals a device transmits. Institutions and malicious parties can use these disruptions as a fingerprint to track a specific device. It also allows attackers to bypass anti-tracking techniques that manufacturers add to their products.
Previous research has shown that Wi-Fi and other wireless technologies leave wireless fingerprints. It now appears that this form of tracking with Bluetooth is possible; in a very precise way.
“This is important because Bluetooth poses a greater threat in today’s world as it is a frequent and constant wireless signal broadcast by all of our personal mobile devices,” said Nishant Bhaskar, one of the lead authors of the study.
Tracking individuals with bluetooth is complicated
According to the research team, tracking individual devices via Bluetooth is not easy. Previous WiFi fingerprinting techniques are based on the fact that WiFi signals contain