Security

Bluetooth Security Risks

Bluetooth has been in the market since 2000, and it has gained worldwide popularity. Bluetooth has helped people to connect to their devices and share data through it without any hassle. But is Bluetooth safe? With advanced technology, the chances of attacks and threats to your information shared via the internet are also increasing. However, Bluetooth technology has changed many people’s lives and is somehow prone to some attacks. Therefore, Bluetooth connection has its unique kind of vulnerability.

Hackers continuously find new ways to attack your Bluetooth devices and steal your data. Thus, engineers are working and constantly looking for a solution to ensure the safety of your devices connected via Bluetooth. However, before getting onto any kind of solution, first, we need to understand the risks and their impact on the devices.

Let us begin with an overview of Bluetooth.

What is Bluetooth?

Bluetooth devices have become a part of smart technology. With Bluetooth, you can connect to home devices, smartphones, headphones, and others. Before connecting to any device, we have to create some settings for the devices. After connecting, you can share your data, but sending data can be prone to hackers and can be easily hacked. It might lead to the loss of your personal, crucial data stored on your devices.

However, you could never imagine a day where you do not use Bluetooth. But as with other data sharing mediums, Bluetooth also comes with some associated cybersecurity risks. For example, you want to avoid unauthorized parties from accessing the data being transmitted via Bluetooth.

Do not mistake Bluetooth as:

  • Sometimes Bluetooth is considered to be a secured technology. However, the risks are not limited to its implementation, but the design also has some flaws.
  • Bluetooth can have a wide range covering up to 100 meters. It is mainly used in short-distance and long-distance connections. But it does not mean you are safe if you are connecting from long-distance connections. You are prone to attacks every time you connect via Bluetooth.
  • From a security point of view, Bluetooth is not a mature communication method. Therefore, it acts differently from how it is supposed to be if you use it via smartphone.

Benefits of Using Bluetooth

Below are some advantages of using Bluetooth:

  • It helps in avoiding interference from other wireless devices.
  • It consumes low power.
  • It is easily upgradeable and manageable.
  • It offers a better range compared to Infrared communication.
  • You can use it for voice and data transfer.
  • Bluetooth devices are available at an affordable cost.

Bluetooth Levels

Below are some Bluetooth levels. You must know and understand their levels as its security is based on the level and version.

  • Level one: At this level, you can pair the Bluetooth devices with any other available Bluetooth device without checking the version. Apart from this, you will not require the owner’s verification for making the connection. However, such devices are more prone to the security threat to your data.
  • Level two: At this level, you will require the verification code to connect to the devices. The risk here is less than Level one devices. However, your data can still be infiltrated by criminals.
  • Level three: At this level, both the devices will swap security codes to pair, ensuring complete safety and leaving no chance for a security breach. However, you may face coding errors and leaving your device vulnerable.
  • Level four: At this level, devices follow a strict and standard authentication protocol ensuring safety and no chances for attacks. As a result, the security risks are significantly fewer.

Bluetooth Attacks

Below are some common risks you may face via connecting devices via Bluetooth. We will discuss all the risks in detail to understand their impact on the devices and how hackers use that data.

BlueSmacking

This attack is a way for implementing the Denial of Service attack that possesses within the Bluetooth devices. If you belong to the IT world, the term Denial of Service is not new. It is a situation where a target, such as a server, will receive a high volume of requests or packets more than it can handle. As a result, the server will be overloaded from the incoming requests and may malfunction the server and crash.

Considering the nature of this attack is not as severe as many other possible attacks. You can solve this problem by rebooting the server instantly and making it available for your users. This attack employs the help of the L2CAP layer of the Bluetooth networking stack and sends a massive volume of data.

BlueJacking

It sounds like hijacking for Bluetooth devices. It is a situation where one Bluetooth device hijacks another device and overloads it with spam advertisements, slowing down the device’s performance. Bluetooth devices can easily cover ten meters of broadcasting range, so there may be a possibility that the hacker stays within that range. Also, another cause can be that the hacker will leave the hijacking device within your device’s range and operate it from outside.

This attack will annoy the owner with several messages. If you are getting text messages on your phone, then it is a phishing attack. It is an attack where the attacker acts as a trustworthy person and tries to steal your crucial information. Such messages may include a link to a website containing malware that will easily and efficiently extract your details.

BlueSnarfing

These attacks are where all the Bluetooth-specific exploits have the word “blue” in their names. So is in some ways, BlueSnarfing is similar to BlueJacking but is a more severe threat to users. In the case of BlueJacking, the attacker will explode your device with spam data, but the BlueSnarfing attack will take the data out from your device, making it more vulnerable. In addition, the attacker can take any of your crucial data through your Bluetooth-connected devices and lead to a more harmful cyberattack.

BlueBugging

It is a more advanced step than BlueJacking and BlueSnarfing. This attack creates a backdoor on the user’s device that is connected via Bluetooth. It can provide access to the outsider or an attacker to gain your insider access and crucial information. Such attacks are used to keep an eye on someone’s phone details to track them down. In some cases, such an attack can be beneficial to get insider information from a law point of view.

Bluetooth Security Tips

Protecting your device that is mostly connected to Bluetooth, you can implement few methods to avoid the risk of getting hacked. It will help you to make distance from the attackers and give your complete security.

  • Make sure to keep track of your devices and keep them near you. You can even install “find my device” applications on your devices and monitor.
  • You can keep your device’s password protected to secure your crucial and personal information.
  • Never leave your device in discoverable mode. You should make sure that this option will only be enabled whenever you are pairing any device.
  • Make sure you turn off your Bluetooth option once your work is done. It will not give a space for the attacker to enter and use your sensitive data off your device.

Conclusion

Bluetooth technology is not new but is still used by millions of people worldwide. Sharing data via Bluetooth-connected devices is easy and seamless without impacting the quality of data. But with advantages, come some risks. For example, there may be chances that your data can be hacked while transferring. Therefore, you must ensure that your data is safe while connecting to Bluetooth.

This article mentioned some risks associated with Bluetooth technology and how we can overpower them. We must take precautionary measures to avoid such attacks and the loss of our sensitive data. Keeping the data safe and secure is our topmost priority. So keep these pointers in mind and implement them in your daily life.

About the author

Simran Kaur

Simran works as a technical writer. The graduate in MS Computer Science from the well known CS hub, aka Silicon Valley, is also an editor of the website. She enjoys writing about any tech topic, including programming, algorithms, cloud, data science, and AI. Travelling, sketching, and gardening are the hobbies that interest her.