Bluetooth Attacks and How to Secure Your Mobile Device

Bluetooth Attacks and How to Secure Your Mobile Device

Bluetooth is quite convenient for applications such as wireless headphones and for devices such as smartwatches. However, it isn’t perfect and there are vulnerabilities that users of devices with Bluetooth should be aware of. Here we will cover some of these and explore methods of protecting yourself from them.

Bluetooth Vulnerabilities

Let’s take a look at some of the known vulnerabilities below. Unfortunately, there are people out there who are determined to exploit and discover such vulnerabilities so there may be more of these that you have to worry about in the future. On the other hand, there also people out there who are determined to keep us safe from security vulnerabilities. One issue that is present is that Bluetooth’s pairing procedure allows for the initial key exchange to occur without encryption. Encryption only occurs after this initial exchange. Bluetooth encryption also varies depending on the device and how it’s set up. These 2 things, among others, lead to specific problems that can rear their ugly heads. We will explore some of these issues below. 

Eavesdropping

As the name suggests, eavesdropping is when a malicious party intercepts your data. This could mean them listening in on conversations or stealing other data being transmitted via Bluetooth. Older Bluetooth devices might be susceptible to security flaws which left devices using earlier versions of the Bluetooth specification susceptible to eavesdropping. This threat can be mitigated against by only using the latest version of Bluetooth technology (5.X).

Denial of Service

Hackers can actually flood a Bluetooth device with requests and crash your device. Essentially, this type of attack could lead to blocked phone calls and/or a drained battery. This threat can be mitigated against by turning off your Bluetooth when it isn’t in use. 

Man-in-the-Middle Attacks

With this type of exploit, an attacker obtains link keys linked to devices that are communicating and can then intercept communication between these devices.

Service Discovery Protocol Exploit

Bluetooth devices use the service discovery Protocol (SDP) to find out what Bluetooth features devices in a particular area have. This information could potentially be used to launch an attack on devices.

Bluetooth Headset Vulnerabilities

Some Bluetooth headsets have security flaws that could result in your conversations being eavesdropped on. This could be a problem for in-car handsfree kits too. This threat can be hedged against by changing the default Bluetooth pin on these devices. 

Bluetooth Security Advice

We have alluded to this advice while discussing the vulnerabilities above. However, it’s worth making sure that these things are clear. One of the best things you can do to secure your device is to change the default pairing pin code to something else. In addition, you should also either turn off your Bluetooth or make sure that it isn’t discoverable when you’re not using it. In addition, you should also avoid working with devices using older Bluetooth specifications. 

Wrapping Up

Listening to your favorite tunes using your Bluetooth earbuds is super convenient. However, just be aware that you should take the precautions above when using your earbuds or any other Bluetooth capable technology. There are vulnerabilities that can be used to compromise your devices. However, the simple solutions we listed above can help to keep your device safe. 

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