Bluejacking, Harmless Fun With Your Mobile Phone!

Reader Vern asked this question:

Ok, one question – what in the WORLD is BLUEJACKING? I saw it in your profile and I don’t understand. I tried to find info in your blog but guess I haven’t looked hard enough… what is that? I Think of blues and jacks – fish in florida that I used to catch from the kayak… does it have ANYTHING to do with that?

The New Hampshire Bushman in Taiwan: Beautiful Sunday

Vern reminded me that I have never blogged on bluejacking!  So, here goes! 

Bluejacking is a term for sending harmless unsolicited messages to mobile phone users by Bluetooth.  I want to emphasize that this is intended to be a harmless activity, and only for fun.

There have been a number of articles in the newspapers recently focusing on a sinister use of bluejacking carried out by a minority of people, including the sending of violent images and videos via Bluetooth. To make our position absolutely clear we have always promoted bluejacking as a fun and harmless hobby, and we are 100% against the sending of messages via Bluetooth that could in any way worry, upset or distress the recipient. As our code of ethics posted in 2003 has always made clear, we totally discourage the sending of upsetting messages. This new phenomenon is totally contrary to the spirit bluejackQ has always promoted; bluejacking should be fun, harmless, and done in the way that doesn’t upset people. If you don’t want to be bluejacked, follow our instructions in the FAQ to turn off Bluetooth on your phone.

bluejack Q :: Mobile Phone Bluejacking

I have been bluejacking for several years.  It can be a fun hobby to engage in while riding a train in a crowded place like northern Taiwan where nearly everyone has a Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone. 

But, what exactly do you send someone?  Well, it can be something as simple as a text message that you’ve prepared in advance, hopefully with some clues that the person can use to identify you (such as “I’m the tall guy at the end of the car”).  It’s really quite entertaining to send such a message on a train and then look around to see who is searching for you.  Beats staring out the window anyday.

Even better Bluejacking Fun!

Next time you are in Sogo, send someone this image (all images are downloadable from flickr):

And then wait around to see who tries to redeem it!

Next time you are at Burger King, whip out your handy and jack someone this little gem:

If you are just walking around the mall or around town you can use this one:

In the past I have taken small personal photos of myself and added text that says “Bluejacked by Bushman” or something similar.  You should make your own images and jack them around!

Variations On The Theme

A variant of bluejacking is called “bombjacking.”  I strongly oppose this term because it sounds like something that security agencies will search the internet for.  But, it’s all harmless fun.  The bluejacker sends a scheduled appointment from their Calender application to an unsuspecting victim’s mobile phone.  This appointment will have an alarm set to go off at some strange hour, with the hope of startling the victim who will undoubtably be wondering where the heck that came from!  Again, you should leave a clue.  Some bluejackers include their username and a URL to a bluejacking site so victims can respond to their bluejack on the site and share the story with others.

I have found that it helps to name files that sound innocuous or even necessary, such as SIM UPDATE.  People often assume that the mobile phone system is sending them some update that they need and will accept files so named.

I suggest that you review any files that someone is trying to send you before you accept them.  Mobile phone viruses are becoming more common every day.  In some places like Hong Kong, stores broadcast Bluetooth advertisements that will ping the mobile phones of passersby.  I found that when I am in certain places I have to turn Bluetooth off to keep my phone from buzzing every 2 minutes.

Bluejacking is usually technically harmless, but because bluejacked people don’t know what is happening, they think their phone is malfunctioning. Usually, a bluejacker will only send a text message, but with modern phones it’s possible to send images or sounds as well. Bluejacking has been used in guerrilla marketing campaigns to promote advergames.

Bluejacking – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For more information on Bluejacking, go here.

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2 comments

  1. Now I want a bluetooth-enabled phone just to bluejack people on those long rides on the MRT. Thanks for the info Michael!

  2. fortunately they are cheap and plentiful here in Taiwan! sorry Todd – i should have blogged on the hobby a long time ago!

    take care.

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