The management of WiFi and Bluetooth in the iOS 11 Control Center not only confuses many users, but it is also bad for security, experts say.
Many users are led to believe that the wireless interfaces of their smartphones have been turned off, explains the American NGO Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). However, only active connections terminate when the respective quick settings have a change to “off” in the Control Center. Adding to that, WiFi and Bluetooth will automatically turn on at 5 a.m., as explained by Apple in a support report.
The new Control Center does not allow a real closure, just as its predecessor used in iOS 10. Users now have to navigate to the iOS configuration and deactivate them there individually.
For security and privacy reasons, it is best to turn off WiFi and Bluetooth whenever you do not need them, says the EFF.
These links, when always active, can be used to locate and identify phones, for example for advertising purposes. At worst, they can be a gateway to malware attacks.
Recently, in September 2017, the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) issued a warning about a Bluetooth vulnerability called “Blueborn,” which can infect active unprotected Bluetooth devices with malicious software without the user having a notice of it.
It is highly recommendable that WiFi and Bluetooth should remain turned off when not needed.
Many smartphone users do turn off there phone location services when they are not in use, so applications and services can not track the location of the phone through GPS.
However, that does not mean that the phone cannot be tracked yet: if WiFi and Bluetooth are turned on, they can also be used by third parties to collect position and movement data.
Therefore, it makes sense to disable these connections when they are not being used.
When WiFi is switched on, your smartphone automatically transmits the serial number of your WiFi wireless module. An active Bluetooth module transmits a number similar to Bluetooth beacons. Both can be exploited by companies by what is known as “offline tracking.”
These very transmissions can be used to track a smartphone user’s route through a store, pedestrian zone, or even a whole city, or to determine their location at a given time.
That information could then be used by applications installed to display targeted advertising, for example.
iOS 11 PROVES VULNERABILITIES UNDER BLUETOOTH AND WIFI: REPORT