Since its massive implementation, Bluetooth has become one of the most popular wireless connection technologies, allowing people to enhance their activities in a fully connected environment. Virtually any device is Bluetooth-enabled, including laptops, audio players, smartphones, smart speakers and more, which is very attractive to threat actors.
According to cybersecurity specialists, a recurring security problem is that users keep Bluetooth on their devices activated even if they do not use it, when it is best to activate it only when it is needed. As simple as it sounds, this and other security measures are frequently ignored or forgotten by users, who unknowingly open an attack vector for Bluetooth device engagement.
In this article, experts from the ethical hacking course of the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) describe the most well-known Bluetooth hacking methods, widely used by threat actors around the world. Before continuing, as usual we remind you that this article was prepared for informational purposes only and should not be taken as a call to action; IICS is not responsible for the misuse that may occur to the information contained herein.
According to the researchers, the most common Bluetooth hacks and vulnerabilities are:
- Bluetooth Impersonaton Attacks (BIAS)
Let’s see what each of these attacks and security flaws consists of in detail.
This is an attack that can be deployed through the air to compromise Bluetooth devices. Through exploiting a widely spread vulnerability, threat actors can take control of a Bluetooth connection and hijack the affected devices. The vulnerability exploited in this attack resides in smartphones, laptops and even Internet of Things (IoT) devices, say specialists in ethical hacking.
As a security measure, experts recommend disabling Bluetooth when not in use, in addition to keeping your devices always up to date, not using public WiFi networks and, if possible, using a virtual private network (VPN) solution.
This is a variant of network attack that occurs when hackers manage to connect to a user’s device and, without their consent, begin intercepting sensitive information.
While this is a highly intrusive attack technique, the attack will only work if the target user enables the Bluetooth feature on their device. However, the risk is considerable due to the ability to steal sensitive information.
Given the characteristics of this attack, the best way to protect you is to keep the Bluetooth function disabled when not in use. Storing sensitive information in secure locations and applying passwords to these folders on our devices could also prove useful, ethical hacking experts say.
This attack variant occurs when one Bluetooth device takes control of another using phishing techniques and malicious online content; so both attacker and victim must be in nearby locations. While this attack does not give hackers access to the affected device, this attack would allow sending all kinds of invasive ads or spam to users without the user knowing where these posts have come from.
The best way to avoid this attack, according to ethical hacking experts, is to keep the Bluetooth function off whenever it is not in use.
Bluetooth Impersonaton Attacks (BIAS)
In this attack variant, threat actors seek to compromise a legacy secure connection procedure during the initial establishment of a Bluetooth connection. The main advantage of these attacks is that the Bluetooth standard does not require the mutual use of the legacy authentication procedure during the establishment of a secure connection.
To prevent these attacks, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) implemented mutual authentication requirements along with connection type verification to mitigate security risk.
This exploit was developed after hackers realized how easy it was to compromise Bluetooth devices using Bluejacking and BlueSnarfing. The BlueBugging attack uses the Bluetooth connection to create a backdoor on the exposed phone or computer.
This attack not only allows hackers to access information on the affected devices, but would also provide access to critical functions in the system.
How to protect against a Bluetooth attack?
These attacks are very common and pose severe security risks, so it is necessary to know the best ways to prevent this kind of situation. According to the experts of the ethical hacking course, these are the best methods to prevent a Bluetooth attack:
- Turn off Bluetooth when not in use
- Do not accept pairing requests from unknown devices
- Keep your systems always updated to the latest version available
- Enable additional security measures
These five scenarios described above are just a fragment of the multiple known Bluetooth hacking methods, so users and system administrators should try to maintain all possible security measures in order to avoid suffering the consequences of these and other attacks.
To learn more about information security risks, malware variants, vulnerabilities and information technologies, feel free to access the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) websites.
He is a cyber security and malware researcher. He studied Computer Science and started working as a cyber security analyst in 2006. He is actively working as an cyber security investigator. He also worked for different security companies. His everyday job includes researching about new cyber security incidents. Also he has deep level of knowledge in enterprise security implementation.