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Bluebugging definition

Bluebugging is a cyberattack that seeks to infiltrate the victim’s device through a discoverable Bluetooth connection. The hacker’s machine pairs with the target device and installs malware on it. Once the device has been bluebugged, the hacker is able to make and listen to calls, read and send messages, and modify or steal contacts.

Bluebugging was developed by Martin Herfurt in 2004. The technique initially targeted laptops with Bluetooth capabilities but has since become a major threat to modern Bluetooth-capable smartphones. The short range of Bluetooth connections limits the effectiveness of bluebugging. To carry out attacks on targets further than 10 meters away, criminals need booster antennas.

See also: bluejacking, bluesnarfing, Bluetooth, botnet, cyberattack

Dangers of bluebugging

  • Hijacking the device. Bluebuggers can take full control of a device, accessing all its features, such as the phonebook, calendar, or camera.
  • Making unauthorized phone calls. An attacker can use bluebugging to make calls or send texts from the victim’s device without their knowledge. This can lead to unauthorized charges and compromise the victim’s privacy.
  • Stealing personal information. Bluebugging can also serve to steal personal data such as contacts, messages, and photos from the victim’s device. The thieves can then exploit this information for identity theft or other malicious purposes.
  • Spying on the victim. A bad actor can use bluebugging to remotely activate a device’s microphone. This would allow them to listen in on conversations and gather information about the victim. They can also eavesdrop on phone calls.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security