We use Bluetooth to wirelessly connect our devices together. Follow this advice to stay safe while using Bluetooth

How does Bluetooth work?

Bluetooth wirelessly connects (or ‘pairs’) devices together over short distances. It is commonly found in phones, cars, computers, fitness trackers, gaming consoles and controllers, headphones, ear buds, tablets and TVs.

Bluetooth is used to pair wireless devices like headphones, keyboards, or a mouse to phones or computers. It is also what enables you to make and take hands-free calls while driving.

What are the risks?

Because it uses radio waves, Bluetooth is susceptible to eavesdropping and remote access.

Connecting over Bluetooth can expose private information, allow a person to send viruses to your device, or even enable a person to control the Bluetooth device.

Although it sounds like something out of a spy story, it is not unheard of for cars to be hacked through the car's Bluetooth connectivity. If another person pairs your phone with their car, they can receive calls intended for you if they are close by (generally within 10 metres).

What can I do about the risks?

There are many ways to reduce the risks.

  • Keep your devices secure with strong passcodes or passwords and keep a close eye on them, particularly in public places. Read more about how to secure your accounts and devices.
  • Enable Bluetooth only when needed and ‘remove’ paired devices when you are not using them.
  • Make sure your Bluetooth device is only paired to devices you are aware of and can control. If you have an in-car Bluetooth navigation system, make sure only your device is paired with the car. Check your fitness tracker and unlink any unknown devices that are not owned by you. Read more about wearables and fitness trackers.
  • Make sure you change the security settings on your Bluetooth devices to make them as strong as possible — do not leave them on the default settings, particularly the default device name and default password. This makes it hard for other people to find and pair with them.
  • If security is a worry for you, avoid pairing devices in public places.
  • If a Bluetooth device is lost or stolen, remove the device from the devices list on the phone, computer or other device that you usually pair it with.
  • On Apple devices you can use Airdrop to share content such as photos and videos with other Apple devices that are nearby, through Bluetooth or wi-fi. To avoid being sent content by people you don’t know go into the Settings menu for your device, tap General and then Airdrop. You can turn off Airdrop receiving entirely or limit it to Contacts only. It’s strongly recommended you don’t set it to ‘Everyone’. If someone does try to share content with you, and you do not know who they are, decline the invitation.

‘How to’ videos

How to turn off Bluetooth on PCs

How to turn off Bluetooth on Mac Computers

How to turn off Bluetooth on an iPhone or iPad

How to turn off Bluetooth on Android devices