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Bluebugging

Bluebugging

Bluebugging definition

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. Bluebugging is limited by the short range of Bluetooth connections — to attack targets more than 10 meters away, criminals need booster antennas.

Stopping bluebugging

  • Update your devices with the latest security patches to address known vulnerabilities that could be exploited through bluebugging.
  • Make devices “undiscoverable” over Bluetooth — this will prevent hackers from pairing up with them for bluebugging.
  • Do not accept random pairing requests. Hackers rely on your carelessness to gain easy access to your device.
  • Turn Bluetooth off when you’re not using it, to deny hackers opportunities to attack your device.
  • Monitor your device for suspicious activity. If your phone starts randomly disconnecting calls and sending messages on its own, somebody could be controlling it.
  • Watch out for spikes in data usage — if you’re suddenly consuming a lot more data than you’re used to, your device might be acting secretly as part of a botnet.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security