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How Hackers Use Bluetooth to Attack Users’ Devices

If you want 2 devices to communicate and exchange data, you will use Bluetooth. This is a famous and useful built-in technology in wireless devices, such as headphones, smart watches, keyboards, computer mice, portable speakers, multimedia systems, laptops, desktops, etc.


This amazing wireless technology was created in the 2000s and is widely used everywhere nowadays. But sometimes such a convenient way to connect between devices makes users suffer from vulnerabilities. Some analysts say that Bluetooth vulnerabilities are used to hack devices. They also explain how the process works, how hackers can use this technology. And they answer the question: should Bluetooth be turned off when not in use?


In early 2000s Bluetooth replaced IrDA. It had a connection range of 10 meters – a technological revolution for that time. Even in 2000s experts understood that hackers could use Bluetooth and access to phone services such as watching photos. Moreover, a Bluetooth headset could be used to connect to a device and illegally eavesdrop on calls! In the 2010s it became obvious that using Bluetooth vulnerabilities could give control over a smartphone to hackers. Criminals started to use Bluetooth as a way to attack users’ devices.


Nowadays everyone could find and buy zero-day vulnerabilities to compromise Android devices via Bluetooth in the Darknet. This problem is special. Hackers find it, use it only in an ad-hoc manner, and sell it for big bucks to peers. Why zero-day is such a dangerous problem? Mainly because it is still unknown to the information security industry, which means there is no patch yet. Of course, the security update will be released soon, but for now the vulnerability is very serious.


What is BlueFrag? It is the latest and most critical Bluetooth vulnerability in Android smartphones, which was found in 2020. This security breach compromises Android 8 Oreo or Android 9 Pie, so, hackers run commands on smartphones and steal data, while remaining within Bluetooth range. Moreover, since the launch of Bluetooth 5.0, this range can reach up to 100 meters!


Not only Bluetooth manufacturers are responsible for the vulnerabilities. Device manufacturers also create connection rules, so, the security is a common issue. Some devices automatically pair and some require a password. For instance, if you want to connect iPhone, you need to scan a difficult graphical code displayed on the screen, which helps to avoid the smartphone to be hacked.


Moreover, now the vulnerability becomes known, and producers develop updates in order to protect users. So, the main rule is to install software updates with security patches. Privacy settings can be made so that only devices already connected to your device can find it. New gadgets that have not exchanged information with your device yet – will not see it. And the last but not the least – you can protect your device from hackers’ attacks by simply turning Bluetooth off when you don’t use it.


However, massive hacking via Bluetooth is not something you should worry about. Bluetooth has several practical limitations, and that is why it is not the most common hacking technique. For instance, a hacker must be near to your device to make it work.

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