Clark Howard: How safe is your smartphone, Bluetooth device?

Everywhere we go, we have our smartphones with us, and we may have our laptops as well, and you wouldn’t believe how that leaves our lives open to being exploited.

Consumer Advisor Clark Howard looks at information insecurity by showing how not keeping your devices updated or upgraded could leave your personal information at risk.

Phones, computers, speakers, headphones – we are more connected than ever before, and that means criminals are more connected to your personal data.

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George Latzanich is a Bluetooth user and said, “It’s so incredibly convenient to have a Bluetooth connection, but it comes with risks.”

We wanted to see just how easy, so Clark Howard’s Consumer Producer Leah Dunn met up with cybersecurity researcher Willis McDonald at the busiest airport in the world, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson.

“We’ve had this open for about five minutes and we’ve got 570 entries so far of devices that have come within range of the laptop as people pass by through the airport,” McDonald said.

Not only could McDonald find devices, but he could also tell which ones were being used.

“You can see some of the devices where we have these little tick marks that are constant,” he said.

That means if those devices are vulnerable, that data is up for grabs. The solution is simple, keep your devices updated. If your provider doesn’t have an update available, you need to upgrade.

McDonald told Howard when it comes to phones, most exploits are short-term. The best solution is to turn your phone off.

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“Then pay attention to what’s going on on your phone. If something seems suspicious, if something strange is happening, that may be an indication that you need to check your security settings, check your phone,” McDonald said.

The same applies to Bluetooth devices you have around the house.

“If they’re not being updated or their end of life and you can’t update them, then upgrade and get the next model. Get a different model so that you can update those devices and prevent some of the vulnerabilities,” McDonald said.

If you are scared now, it’s so easy for you to feel okay. All you do is turn Bluetooth off on your cellphone and make sure it’s off on your laptop, or any electronic device. If you don’t need Bluetooth, don’t use it.