Take the 2-minute tour ×
Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I know bluetooth supports encryption, but is it in use? How do I know?

The help in the Bluetooth preference pane gives some vague answers:

For extra security, you can stipulate that only trusted devices be allowed to connect to your Mac, and 128-bit over-the-air encryption is also available.

But I don't see any options like what they just said.

Nothing on the Apple Store's product description for the Magic Trackpad says anything about encryption. Same for Amazon. Same for the Apple Support pages.

Maybe it's encrypted and Apple thinks that's just obvious, so they don't waste time telling you it is, but I'm looking for evidence.

share|improve this question
    
Apple's Bluetooth keyboard is definitly encrypted, and has a pretty complex passphrase that is unique to each devise. –  Nilloc Aug 27 '11 at 5:01
    
That's just what they want you to think o_0 –  user48609 May 2 '13 at 21:22
    
I wonder what extra security you would gain by encrypting the trackpad clicks, drags and multi-tough gestures. I hope to learn something about encryption and whether should trust my trackpad without it. –  bmike May 2 '13 at 22:05
add comment

1 Answer 1

All bluetooth connections to Mac OS X are lightly encrypted by default as part of the pairing process. Unless someone is bringing an intentional effort (e.g. technical knowledge and specialized hardware) to bear, your keyboard and data connections are more secure than a good WiFi network. Cracking encrypted bluetooth is not easy unless you can access the computer or capture the pairing session data.


Apple's Bluetooth keyboard, for example, has a pretty complex passphrase that is unique to each device. The trackpad, magic mouse and keyboard all use the same Broadcom bluetooth chip as well.

To paraphrase, the level of protection depends on the length and uniqueness of your device's passphrase, and how often you change it (which only happens when you re-pair a keyboard, for instance, not sure if it even changes then for the trackpad).

For details see how secure is Bluetooth encryption? (though beware, it's from 2004); also Which wireless keyboard is most secure? has some interesting reading, but doesn't really focus on BT security.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.