Bluetooth is best recognized as the wireless technology that enables hands-free earpieces and uses the Internet of Things to connect your phone to audio, navigation, and gadgets (such as, IoT). Bluetooth, as useful as it is for productivity and comfort, can also pose significant security-based mobile threats. While most of the issues that were identified five to ten years ago have been rectified, others still exist. There’s also cause to be wary when it comes to new, as-yet-undiscovered privacy-related issues.
Some perceived benefits include:
- The ability to replace cables is one of the most important advantages of Bluetooth technology. Bluetooth technology can be used to replace a number of cords, including those used for peripheral devices (e.g., mouse and keyboard connections), printers, and wireless headsets and ear buds that connect to personal computers (PCs) or mobile phones.
- File sharing is simple. A piconet can be formed by a Bluetooth-enabled device to allow file sharing capabilities with other Bluetooth devices, such as laptops.
- Synchronization over the air. Bluetooth allows Bluetooth-enabled devices to automatically synchronise. Bluetooth, for example, allows contact information from electronic address books and calendars to be synchronised.
- Internet access is required. Bluetooth devices that have Internet connection can share it with other Bluetooth devices. A laptop, for example, can use a Bluetooth connection to have a mobile phone establish a dial-up connection, allowing the laptop to connect to the Internet via the phone.
As technology advances, phone hackers, often known as “phreakers,” have an even greater edge. The following is a simplified list of Bluetooth-related attacks:
Vulnerabilities in General Software
Bluetooth software isn’t perfect, especially in devices that use the newer Bluetooth 5 specification. It’s almost unheard of to come across software that has no security flaws. It’s easy for attackers to identify new, previously undiscovered vulnerabilities in Bluetooth devices, as Finnish security researchers Tommi Mäkilä, Jukka Taimisto, and Miia Vuontisjärvi demonstrated in 2011. Charges for pricey premium-rate or international calls, data theft, or drive-by virus downloads are all possible consequences.
To protect yourself from these vulnerabilities, make sure to turn off your Bluetooth when you’re not using it.
This attack is usually only possible when a phone is connected to the network in “discovery” or “visible” mode. Setting the phone to “invisible” mode was assumed to stop the attacks, however, tools have lately been developed on the internet that can overcome even these settings. SNARF attacks may now be set up on practically any phone. The only guaranteed way to protect yourself from SNARF threats is to turn off Bluetooth on your phone when you don’t need it.
Bluetooth is a wireless communication standard named after Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson, a Viking king who worked to unite various 10th-century European groups. Criminals should not be able to listen in on your data or phone calls if you use Bluetooth encryption.
Eavesdropping, in other words, should not be an issue. Older Bluetooth devices that use outdated versions of the Bluetooth protocol, on the other hand, are likely to be vulnerable to unpatched security flaws.
To counter this issue, prohibit the usage of Bluetooth 1.x, 2.0, or 4.0-LE devices and require that devices use the most recent versions and protocols.
Denial of Service
Malicious attackers can cause your devices to crash, prevent you from receiving calls, and drain your power. To counteract this threat, make sure your Bluetooth is turned off while you’re not using it.
The range of Bluetooth is far greater than you might believe.
Bluetooth is intended to function as a “personal area network.” That is to say, Bluetooth should not be used to connect devices that are more than a few feet apart. However, simply keeping a safe distance between you and a possible attacker isn’t enough; hackers have been known to effectively communicate over considerably longer distances using directional, high-gain antennas.
The BLUEBUG exploit establishes the phone’s serial connection, giving the attacker access to all of the phone’s AT commands. This allows the attacker to make and receive phone calls, as well as access internet data services. It’s also been revealed that if the phone is connected to a GSM network, it’s easy to listen in on nearby phones’ chats. If executed correctly, this attack takes about 2 seconds to finish and leaves almost no sign of its intrusion. Incoming calls can then be routed to other devices by an attacker.
Another security breach is the BACKDOOR attack, which works by establishing an unauthorized connection to the target’s phone. This attack, on the other hand, works by creating a trust relationship using Bluetooth’s pairing mechanism, but then removes the attacker device from the pair list after the link is made. As a result, unless the device’s owner is watching the pair list at the precise moment a connection is created, it’s doubtful that they’ll realize the attacker is still linked after the pair has been deleted from the list.
The attacker will then gain access to all of the information that a “trusted” connection would provide, but without the owner’s permission. This would allow access to the phone’s authorized data, as well as phone calls and instant messages. This attack, however, is more limited than the SNARF attack because it only grants access to information marked for trusted connections.
WARNIBBLING is a hacking technique in which a phreaker tries to locate and access as many vulnerable Bluetooth phones as possible. To sniff for accessible phones, they often utilize laptops or PCs with high gain antennas and sophisticated software, such as Redfang. Rather than staying still, warnibblers will wander around, mapping as many phones as they can. Some drive, while others move from café to café, but the end consequence is the same: they frequently compromise the safety of huge groups of people.
BLUEJACKING, unlike prior attacks, does not provide adversary access to any data. Instead, a tiny flaw in the Bluetooth pairing process can be exploited to send a message to a user. This is usually innocuous, as attackers employed BLUEJACKING to express themselves, spread counter-culture propaganda, or simply demonstrate their ability to breach a consumer’s security.
- Bluetooth technology necessitates the development of an organisational wireless security policy.
- It is necessary to make sure that all Bluetooth users on the network are aware of their security responsibilities when using Bluetooth.
- To fully understand the organization’s Bluetooth security posture, detailed security assessments must be performed at regular intervals.
- It is necessary to guarantee that wireless devices and networks that use Bluetooth technology are well understood and documented from an architectural standpoint.
- Users should be given a list of precautions to take in order to better protect their portable Bluetooth devices from theft.
- Change the Bluetooth device’s default settings to reflect the organization’s security policy; Bluetooth devices should be set to the lowest necessary and sufficient power level to keep transmissions within the organization’s secure perimeter.
- PIN numbers that are suitably random and long should be chosen. Avoid PINs that are static or weak, such as all zeros.
- If a Bluetooth device is misplaced or stolen, users should unpair it from all other Bluetooth devices with which it was previously associated.
- Antivirus software must be installed on Bluetooth-enabled hosts, which are regularly attacked by malware.
- Bluetooth software patches and upgrades must be thoroughly tested and deployed on a regular basis.
- Users should not accept any transmissions from unidentified or suspicious devices. Messages, data, and photos are examples of these forms of transfers.
See the bigger picture
Bluetooth is a wireless technology that can do a lot more than merely connect items wirelessly. Bluetooth version 4.0 offers faster data rates, a longer range, and improved security. It’s critical to create and convey company policies for mobile device security, including Bluetooth, so that your organization’s data isn’t jeopardized and your end users can operate safely while on the go. Keep in mind that mobile devices provide a range of threats that must be handled, and Bluetooth security is just one piece of the mobile security puzzle that is sometimes disregarded. For both home and business security, make sure to include mobile device security as part of your overall cybersecurity strategy.