Flaws Discovered in Bluetooth Could Lead to Remote Device Compromise

Media Division | September 13, 2017

We continue to expand and evolve the various technologies that are used in modern times. We continue to develop better ways to send information, communicate across long distances, complete transactions, and wirelessly integrate devices. One of the most helpful technologies along the avenue of integrating devices and wirelessly sending data has been Bluetooth. This is one of the most prominently used types of short range wireless technologies, and it is now included in virtually every single device out there. It allows us to hook our phones up to our cars and computers, play music wirelessly, and many other useful features. Although, just like any other technology, Bluetooth can be a huge risk if it is not properly secured when integrated within devices. Well, that seems to be the case in some recent vulnerabilities discovered, which would allow devices to be remotely hacked.

The Potential of the Vulnerabilities

These vulnerabilities were first discovered by an IoT security firm called Armis. The exploits are not within the Bluetooth protocol itself, but rather contained in the stacks present within the different operating systems, including Android, Windows, iOS, and Linux. The team has been working silently with developers to coordinate patch releases for 8 discovered vulnerabilities between different operating systems. Each operating system contained varying numbers of flaws, with Windows and iOS each having one, Linux with two, and Android containing four. The team has named the attack vector Blueborne, and they estimated that it affects over 5.3 Billion devices. The most dangerous aspect of these vulnerabilities is that is that they can be completely automated and do not require any sort of user authentication or pairing. The attacker can actually force the vulnerable device into enabling Bluetooth connections. In one scenario, it may even be possible for the attacker to create a spreading attack, in which an infected device will automatically infect others when they come into range.  

Unfortunately, Armis believes that around 40% of devices will not be patched because of some older devices not receiving firmware updates and some users not bothering to update because of it being too complicated. On the bright side, several of these patches have already been rolled out by developers, and many of those who updated are protected. For those with outdated devices, it is recommended that they upgrade, as otherwise, they will remain at risk. And for those that have not updated their newer devices, they should do so immediately. It is never a good idea to push off device updates until a later time, as they often contain critical security patches like this. Sure, it can take a little time to install these, but it is far better than being compromised.

Making Cyber Security a Priority

With various threats and vulnerabilities like the above continuing to surface, it is more critical than ever for individuals and organizations to make cyber security a priority. There are numerous ways to ensure that devices are protected. Some are as simple as installing updates and having antivirus and firewalls in place. For organizations that require more comprehensive security to protect the massive amounts of data that they hold, there are tools like cyber intelligence and monitoring. With the massive number of threats and attackers out there, as well as the large number of attack vectors, no one can afford to be lackadaisical about cyber security. IT teams and individuals should stay educated about the potential threats out there and take the necessary steps to implement defenses. Massive Alliance offers a number of cyber security tools and services that can help organizations to better protect their data and systems.

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