Forced pairing, cell phone pairing, bluejacking or phone cloning is a technique Team Machine uses to monitor a target's cell phone. Forced pairing is part of the Team's standard operating procedure on cases. (“Pilot”)
Originally provided by Finch to Reese, the two have since passed the program on to Carter (“In Extremis”), Fusco (“Bad Code”) and Shaw (“Nothing to Hide”). Finch can quickly implement the program on a just-bought pre-paid cell phone despite his equipment in the library having been compromised by Root's hack and him having to abandon all of his technology for protection. This indicates he can either recover the program quickly or replicate it. (“Root Cause”)
While working for the ISA, Shaw used a similar program that had a different appearance than Finch's and mentioned SIM card cloning when used on a target. (“Relevance”) Control used a phone cloning program against Senator Ross Garrison. (“YHWH”)
The program lists the numbers nearby phones and allows the user to choose which phone to pair with. Pairing is not possible if the target's phone is turned off, is already paired though Finch is capable of bypassing this limitation by disabling the other pairing, (“Risk”) or if wifi and bluetooth are turned off. The target typically does not receive notification that their phone has been compromised. (“Til Death”)
Though no one has ever discovered the Team's use of phone pairing, certain hackers and criminals are wary of the vulnerabilities posed by mobile phones.
The program also has the following features:
- Tracking paired phones via GPS.
- Sending messages from paired phones. (“Matsya Nyaya”)
- Installing the program remotely on other phones. (“Bad Code”)
- Using paired phones as a host to infect nearby phones. (“Triggerman”)
- Monitoring a paired phone's communications
- Recording conversations both in the form of phone calls and through the microphone. Finch used this feature to record a conversation between Root and Pete Matheson (“Root Cause”), and Fusco used it to record a conversation between Cal Beecher and Carl Elias. (“Trojan Horse”)
- Displaying the person calling a paired phone. (“Razgovor”)
- Creating complex tracking devices: Finch created a tracking device by programming Shayn Coleman's high-tech prosthetic arm to force pair with cell phones it passes so as to leave a GPS trail. (“Shadow Box”)
- Accessing a paired phone's microphone to, for example, spy on conversations from a distance. (“Razgovor”) (“Mors Praematura”) (“The Perfect Mark”)(“Endgame”)
- Transferring a user's program between phones. (“Endgame”)
- Accessing another user's forced pairing remotely and using it to record conversations. (“Endgame”)
- Hacking every phone in proximity from across the street. (“Provenance”)
- Muting and unmuting a paired phone remotely. (“Last Call”)
- Accessing files stored on a paired phone.
While the program itself works the same over the show, the display for it changes between seasons.
In reality, most Bluetooth compatible devices require user confirmation before exchanging data with another device because of the prevalence of these attacks in 2000–2004. Unauthorized reading of data from devices via Bluetooth is called Bluesnarfing.
- Forced pairings have been used to both exonerate and incriminate people: Finch and Fusco used it to exonerate Scott Powell (“Root Cause”), and Cal Beecher (“Trojan Horse”) respectively. Carter used it to incriminate HR leader Alonzo Quinn. (“Endgame”)
- After showing Carter his recording of Cal Beecher and Elias's conversation, Fusco calls it an illegal wiretap as he did not have a court order, and as a result, it was inadmissible as evidence. (“Trojan Horse”) However, Carter seemed to believe it would be admissible as evidence when she had Finch record Alonzo Quinn's confession in the murder of Beecher.
- The forced pairing program was instrumental in taking down HR:
- After she learned Raymond Terney was an HR cop, Carter used the program on his cell phone, enabling her to rescue Elias. (“God Mode”)
- She later used the program in her extensive surveillance on HR by tracking Terney and listening to his conversations with other HR members through his phone. (“Razgovor”) It is also likely the source of the recordings she made against HR.
- She later monitors Laskey through the program after making him her mole in HR, which allows her to learn about HR's money laundering scheme. (“Mors Praematura”) (“The Perfect Mark”)
- After Alonzo Quinn is exposed as the head of HR, Carter uses the program to spy on Quinn's movements and plans and sabotage them. She later has Finch remote access her pairing and use it to record Quinn's confession in the murder of Cal Beecher, enabling her to arrest Quinn. (“Endgame”)
- Though she acquired the forced pairing program far into her tenure on the show, Carter used the program extensively once she had it and was the only character to receive the program by request, rather than being given it to aid her in helping Reese and Finch.