If you’ve ever searched for something similar to the title of this article on google, most of your finding would probably be: WiFi is secure over Bluetooth. Is that really the case? It depends.
Most of the articles you’ve found usually have an assumption of those technologies being used in your smartphone, but in reality there are many more different devices using them. Therefore, to be fair, let’s discuss solely about the security of the technologies.
In terms of protocol, or, working principle, there are two main differences between WiFi and Bluetooth. For Bluetooth, the transferring data would be hooping to other channels randomly in case of the current channel being busy, therefore it is hard for hackers to keep track of the data, regardless of encryptions; while WiFi keeps using the same channel for data transmission.
The other difference is that in Bluetooth, the key would be transferred and stored in the master the first time a slave device connects to the master, and no key or password would be required hereafter. Therefore it would be a challenge for hackers to get the key. While WiFi requires keys from clients whenever a connection is being established.
It does not prove Bluetooth to be more secure than WiFI, but reveals the fact that WiFi may not be as the rumor goes, being more secure than Bluetooth. In fact, if you are professional enough, you will probably understand, or be able to understand(by googling) that, it is hard to tell which one is more secure. There are many security measures you can apply to both of them as long as you acknowledge and use them. Not to mention patches are being launched up-to-date whenever breaches are found or created by the hackers.
Hence, the security level of WiFi and Bluetooth are almost the same in theory. Nevertheless, how many things on earth are working the same way as in theory?
The fact of more WiFi hacking crimes than Bluetooth’s is undeniable. There are mainly two reasons: WiFi were created for massive/ constant data transmission, the data through WiFi would probably be more valuable than data in Bluetooth, which means it is more efficient to hack WiFi over bluetooth; WiFi in general have a much larger range for, or more accessible to hackers; WiFi allows users to connect to the Internet, which propagates the existence of many public WiFi hotspots, and it essentially has low security level than private WiFi network; and many more.
Although there is solid evidence and reasons for more WiFi hacking crimes, it is worthwhile to mention that most of them are related to smartphones and laptops.
Is it contradicting itself saying WiFi has been frequently hacked and WiFi is secure at the same time? Is it safer to use Bluetooth than WiFi? The answers are NO.
Studies have shown that most hacking crimes are related to users’ improper use of these wireless tech, both WiFi and Bluetooth, other than the security level of the tech itselves. Improper use includes but does not limit to turning on bluetooth while not in use or it is not connected, transferring sensitive data such as bank account/credit card information when online shopping and personal information when doing applications, do not apply any encryption or security measures for the wireless tech to your gadgets. These improper settings are irrational but yet often seen among all WiFi and Bluetooth users. Perhaps it is due to the lack of knowledge of the security measures, or merely laziness of users.
Imagine you were the hacker who was going to hack someone through wireless tech in the public area and you had no idea which network contains more confidencial data, which one would you choose to target among hundreds of networks?
In order words, WiFi is generally secure unless users do not apply proper security measures. And so is Bluetooth.
The scenarios mentioned above are mostly related to personal gadgets like smartphone and laptops. IoT devices, or self-invented devices would be more secure in comparison. Firstly, personal gadgets allow autonomy to users to do the security setting, which in turn also allows their laziness and ignorance. While for IoT devices, especially for less complex ones, the security setting can be fixed by the manufacturer, as oftentimes these devices serve one or a few purposes only and manufacturers do not want to make it too complex for the users. In addition, these devices are less likely to transfer confidential information, which means it is rather less worthy for hackers to hack into.
In conclusion, WiFi and Bluetooth are almost equally secure technically. Although the ecosystems of wireless tech in personal gadgets and other IoT devices are quite different, as long as they are with proper security settings, they would be secure almost like in theory.
Regarding using Bluetooth in IoT devices, Bluetooth itself does not connect to the Internet. How to create an IoT device and take advantage of Bluetooth at the same time? You may want to read the following article: link