Gartner advises firms to deactivate Bluetooth

Eric B. Parizo, Executive Editor

A prominent research firm is urging companies using Bluetooth-enabled devices to deactivate the short-range wireless data protocol, because various security flaws could allow unauthorized access to data.

In an advisory issued late last week, Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc. recommended that enterprises disable Bluetooth capabilities on mobile devices unless there is a "compelling reason" not to.

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 According to the advisory, written by Gartner vice president Martin Reynolds and senior writer Michael Gomez, developers and handset manufacturers often neglect security considerations, and enterprises often see Bluetooth security as an afterthought.

The advisory notes that the risks are greatest with devices such as notebooks and Internet-enabled PDAs. Wireless phones represent a minimal risk because they typically do not contain sensitive data.

Gartner's recommendation comes after a week when two manufacturers disclosed that Bluetooth security vulnerabilities exist in nearly a dozen wireless handsets.

On Wednesday, Sony Ericsson revealed that several of its handsets, including the Sony Ericsson T610 and T68i and the Ericsson T39, T68 and R520, are vulnerable to attackers who could use Bluetooth to steal information stored on the devices.

Earlier, Nokia had confirmed that a number of its handsets have a similar flaw. Affected handsets include the 6310, 6310i, 7650, 8910 and 8910i.

A Gartner representative was not available for comment.

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