What is bluebugging, and how is it used to hack Bluetooth-enabled devices?
Science & Technology
3rd Dec, 2022
Cybersecurity experts have noted that specific apps that let users connect smartphones or laptops to wireless earplugs can record conversations, through a process called bluebugging.
- Background: Independent security researcher Martin Herfurt blogged about the threat of bluebugging as early as 2004.
- Bluebugging is a technique that allows skilled hackers to access mobile commands on Bluetooth-enabled devices that are in discoverable mode.
- Bluebugging is similar to phone eavesdropping, or bugging.
- Once a connection is established, hackers can use “brute force attacks” to bypass authentication. It uses trial-and-error to guess login info, and encryption keys, or find a hidden web page.
Who are Vulnerable to bluebugging?
- Devices on discoverable mode: Because discoverable mode is a default setting, most Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones and devices are automatically vulnerable to bluebugging attacks.
- Bluebugging can happen whenever a Bluetooth-enabled device is within a 10-meter radius of the hacker.
- Hackers can use booster antennas to widen the attack range.
- Devices not in discoverable mode: Certain tools - such as RedFang and BlueSniff - allow hackers to infiltrate Bluetooth-enabled devices that are not in discoverable mode.
How does bluebugging hack devices?
- The hackers first try to pair with the device via Bluetooth.
- Once a connection is established, hackers can use brute force attacks to bypass authentication.
- A brute force attack uses trial-and-error to guess login info, and encryption keys, or find a hidden web page.
- They can later install the malware in the compromised device to gain unauthorized access to it.
Ways to prevent:
- Turning off Bluetooth and disconnecting paired Bluetooth devices when not in use
- Updating the device’s system software to the latest version
- Limiting the use of public Wi-Fi
- Using VPN as an additional security measure
- Monitor sudden spikes in data usage
Instances of Cyber-attack in India:
- The number of cyberattacks on the Indian healthcare industry was the second highest globally in the segment.
Do you know?
Japan, Australia, and India were the most-attacked countries in Asia.
According to an IBM Security study, the cost of a data breach averaged Rs.17.6 crore in India in 2022, 6.6% higher as compared to Rs.16.5 crore last year.
- 7 percent of the attacks on healthcare being witnessed in the country in 2021, according to cyber security intelligence firm CloudSEK.
- CloudSEK is among the entities that provide cyber threat intelligence to the Indian cybersecurity watchdog CERT-In.
- The recent AIIMS cyberattack exposes the vulnerability of Indian healthcare.
- The cyberattack not only froze everyday work at AIIMS but also put the patients’ credentials in danger.
Challenges to tackle the menace:
- Dependence on outdated or legacy infrastructure
- Accelerated digital adoption, over a short span of time
- Limited understanding of cyber security
- Fragmented and unorganized cyber security infrastructure
- Increasing instances of Social Engineering attacks
- Attacks using emerging technology: Machine learning poisoning is one of the most prevalent methods used to attack ML (Machine Learning) systems. AI fuzzing is another tool primarily used to detect, identify and fix cyber-attack vulnerabilities.
Initiatives are taken by the Indian Government for Cyber Security:
- Indian National Security Council: To shape the ecosystem related to cyber policy.
- Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In): For alerts regarding Cybersecurity breaches and issues.
- Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C): To handle several issues regarding cybercrime in a comprehensive and coordinated manner.
- Cyber Swachhta Kendra: To create a secure cyberspace by detecting botnet infections in India
- National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Center (NCIIPC): To protect critical information about our country, this has an enormous impact on national security, economic growth, and public health care.
- Personal Data Protection Bill 2022: The Bill offers significant concessions on cross-border data flows, in a departure from the previous Bill’s contentious requirement of local storage of data within India’s geography.
- National Cyber Security Policy, 2013: The Policy’s goal is to create safe and resilient cyberspace for citizens, businesses, and the Government.