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Coronavirus Tracking Apps Raise Questions About Bluetooth Security


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A delivery man in Paris wearing protective gear and checking his phone.

Governments and businesses plan to launch mobile applications that use Bluetooth to track coronavirus infections, even though working with Bluetooth raises cybersecurity concerns.

Credit: Francois Mori/Associated Press

Governments and businesses intend to launch mobile applications that use Bluetooth to track coronavirus infections, but working with Bluetooth raises cybersecurity concerns, despite researchers' assurances the technology keeps identifying data confidential.

European governments have announced their development of mobile apps to notify individuals who come into close contact with persons with COVID-19, while Singapore and Australia are using Bluetooth-based tracing apps.

Ben Seri at cybersecurity firm Armis said Bluetooth's massive complexity can lead to developer errors.

In 2017, Seri found a flaw (since patched) in how mobile devices handled Bluetooth signals, which hackers could have exploited to move between devices using Bluetooth connections.

Eliot Bendinelli at nonprofit Privacy International said mass use of tracing apps could encourage hackers to try to exploit devices with Bluetooth activated in their vicinity to launch remote cyberattacks.

From The Wall Street Journal
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