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Bluejacking: Harmless Phone Pranks

written by: Karishma Sundaram•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 7/5/2011

What is bluejacking, and why do it? Because it’s fun and completely harmless. The proponents of this fad in cell phone messaging emphasize this very strongly.

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    Bluejacking is a cell phone messaging trend, using the short-range communication Bluetooth. A cell phone user sends a message or a multimedia object through Bluetooth to an unsuspecting stranger. The recipient has to have the Bluetooth on his phone switched on, and receptive to incoming requests.

    The premise of bluejacking is meant to be harmless and fun. However, of late, it has taken various malicious turns, but those will be covered in subsequent articles in the series.

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    How did bluejacking start?

    Bluejacking was a term coined by a Malaysian IT professional, who is reported to have jumpstarted the craze. While waiting one day in bank getting bored, he looked for other cellular devices with Bluetooth switched on. There was one phone, so he sent that particular phone a business card, advertising Sony Ericsson phones. It was a harmless prank. The term is an amalgamation of ‘bluetooth’ and ‘ajack’, the username of the IT professional.

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    Bluejacking and priceless expressions

    Bluejacking was meant to be, and is, a harmless prank pulled on unsuspecting people. To bluejack someone, it is necessary to be within a certain radius of that person. Invariably, these are complete strangers in a crowded area.

    Create a contact, with the message in the ‘Name’ field. Then, after making your phone discoverable by Bluetooth, search for other devices. Select a device and send across the contact. The recipient will get the contact card, with the message in the ‘Name’ field displayed on the screen, without having any idea where it came from.

    Bluejacking has fascinated a great number of people, as the expressions on the victims’ faces are priceless. There is a strict code of ethics involved, and there is no attempt made to retrieve or modify any of the files on other phones.

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    MeetingPoint for Symbian

    There are some bluejacking tools available on the Internet: MeetingPoint is a rather popular one, with other functions to boot. It is a handy tool which allows people who are meeting for the first time to be able to discern each other in a crowd. It works using channels, where both parties agree to a specific channel beforehand. MeetingPoint will set off an audible alarm when both these people are within a certain distance from each other. A free software, MeetingPoint leverages all the advantages of Bluetooth.

    There are more Bluetooth tools available, however they are all fairly similar and have very little to choose between them.

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    I don’t want to be bluejacked

    There are two ways to avoid being bluejacked: one is to turn off Bluetooth altogether. The second option is in case Bluetooth needs to be on, the device can be made undiscoverable by the user. This way, other Bluetooth users will not be able to send any sort of content to that particular phone.

    There are of course people who misuse this system, but it is mainly meant for a laugh. The service is free since Bluetooth is a technology built into the hardware, and is not connected in any way to the SIM card. Therefore the network has no control over Bluetooth.