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PC Touch Services, Inc.

Short-Range Wireless Technologies: Bluetooth

 October 30, 2006


Author:       Wilson Louis-Elias, MS-CIS

Company:   PC Touch Services, Inc.

Contact:     P.O. Box 14202

                   Hauppauge NY 11788

                   Tel: 631-676-2282

Title:         Short-Range Wireless Technologies: Bluetooth

Type:        Article

Date:        October 30, 2006

During the deployment of an application, we determined that the addition of another wireless means of data transmission would reduce the burden of exchanging data on employees. As a result, we enabled Bluetooth wireless technology in all laptops. We would like to take this opportunity to describe the tool and briefly discuss some relevant security issues for those of us who may not be very familiar with the short-range wireless technologies. After reading this article, you should have a very good idea about, Bluetooth, its sister technology Infrared Data Association (IrDA), wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi), and the future World Interoperability for Microwave Access, Inc. (WiMAX) technology. We will, especially, discuss the Bluetooth wireless technology as a medium of data transmission. We will also tell you why you may not be using the same technology to transfer all documents while working in an open environment.

Short-range Wireless Technologies

Any attempt to discuss all of the short-range wireless technologies here would produce a longer document than we would like to present to our readers in this article. Such discussion is beyond the scope of this article. For the sake of naming some of them, short-range wireless technologies include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, IrDA, HomeRF, RFID, ZigBee, and Ultra-Wideband. Currently, the three main short-range wireless technologies are Bluetooth, IrDA, and Wi-Fi (Diviney, 2003). Let us briefly describe the latter two technologies prior to discussing Bluetooth and its relevancy to the employees.


In the early 1990s, the computing industry wanted to replace wires that connect computers together. During the course of their pursuit, players went much further than their initial goals. They authored the Infrared Data Association (IrDA) specifications. IrDA transmits data through the use of “invisible pulses of light… Devices that communicate using infrared must be within sight of each other” (SNAC, 2006). IrDA transmission rate can reach throughput of as much as 4 Mbit/s.


Most of us are very familiar with wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) in form of wireless routers that establish access point (AP) based upon the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n standards. The Wi-Fi Alliance was launched in 1999, after this technology’s apparition “to certify implementation and alleviate consumers’ interoperability concerns” (Diviney, 2003). As many of us know, consumers can basically buy any router on the market and it will interface with basically any wireless network interface card (NIC) on the system. Security vulnerability was very high in the beginning, but encryption applications have considerably improved the security issues. Wi-Fi transmission rate can reach throughput of as much as 4.5 Mbit/s.


While IrDA requires line of sight and Wi-Fi creates access-point, Bluetooth “features some security mechanisms that provides confidentiality and integrity” (SNAC, 2006) to data transmission.

Bluetooth was the initiative of five major players in the computing and wireless communications industries that include Ericsson, Nokia, IBM, Intel, and Toshiba. Their quest expanded in 1998 to include the concept of connection between personal computers (PC). Bluetooth technology allows “many independent point-to-multipoint [in a master-slave relationship] connections in the same physical space.” A data transmission rate can reach throughput of as much as 400 Kbit/s.

Bluetooth and Application Security Strength

Bluetooth is relatively a secure wireless means of communication. For the purpose intended, data was even more secure because the application encrypts data before transmission. The fact that Bluetooth is a short-range wireless transmission medium decreases the possibility of eavesdropping. “To authenticate, devices […] demonstrate that they know one another’s keys. Most of all, “to date, the Bluetooth encryption scheme has not been broken” (Diviney, 2003).

Bluetooth security weakness does not greatly impact on the way employees performed work. Security risks impact more on personal digital assistant (PDA) transmission. Those devices that use Bluetooth technology may require a four-digit pin. Such pin is weak and can be cracked in just one (1) second according to US Department of Defense (2005). However, if employees determine that others suspiciously stick around work area with a device handy, they have reason to react to their presence.

Bluetooth and Other Documents

The question has been raised about whether employees can use the same drive, especially created for the application, to transfer other documents as well. Here is the challenge we experienced with this question. That drive uses a wireless shared folder. Once a folder is shared, obviously, almost anyone with proper skills can browse through it. Placing any unencrypted document in that folder would make it too easy for unauthorized users to access it during an intrusion attack. At the time, Other Documents were not encrypted. Until then, it was not recommended to use the same drive for any other purpose than the specific application’s data transmission.


Since we are approaching the end of this article, it should be clear that this discussion focused more on short-range wireless technology. We have seen that short-range wireless technology transmission throughput was fairly slow. On a wide-range note, the office has used a local telephone company broadband access in 2006. On an exciting wireless communication note, debates about IEEE 802.11n devices began since 2004. Devices manufactured under the IEEE 802.11 sub-standard will allow wireless transmission rate at throughput even higher than 100 Mbit/s (webopdia.com, 2006). In brief, there will be other wide-range wireless technologies and the computing industry is expecting WiMAX to increase throughput considerably.

WiMAX devices, which will be based on the IEEE 802.16, will “support[.] very high bit rates in both uploading to and downloading from a base station up to a distance of 30 miles to handle such services as VoIP, IP connectivity and TDM voice and data” (webopdia.com, 2006).


We hope this article has not simply informed our readers about Bluetooth - the short-range wireless technology we activated on laptops. We made attempts to make the reader aware of short-range and wide-area wireless communication technologies. We have also discussed the future of wide-range wireless technology in WiMAX. The latter is the killer-before-birth of eventual devices expected to manufacture based upon the IEEE 802.11n. We hope to see WiMAX bring us better flexible as it relates to mobility.


Department of Defense. (2005). Mobile And Wireless Device Addendum To The Wireless: Security technical implementation guide. Retrieved on October 13, 2006 from http://iase.disa.mil/stigs/stig/mobile-computing-addendum-v1r1.pdf

Glade Diviney. (2003). An Introduction to Short-Range Wireless Data Communications. Retrieved on October 13, 2006 from http://irda.affiniscape.com/associations/2494/files/PublicaSho

Jupitermedia Corporation. (2006). 802.16. Retrieved on October 13, 2006 from http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/8/802_16.html

Jupitermedia Corporation. (2006). 802.11n. Retrieved on October 13, 2006 from http://webopedia.com/TERM/8/802_11n.html

National Security Agency. (2006). Security Guidance for Deploying IP Telephony Systems. Retrieved on October 13, 2006 from http://www.nsa.gov/snac/voip/I332-016R-2005.pdf

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Wilson Louis-Elias, MS-CIS, EA

A former government tax auditor who is currently "Enrolled to Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Do not delay to contact him about all of your personal and business tax matters. Your tax problem cannot wait because the consequences can be too devastating...

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