How does a bluebugging attack work?
- A hacker tries to pair with your device via Bluetooth.
- Once a connection has been established (brute force attacks can be used to bypass authentication), the hacker installs malware designed to gain unauthorized access to your device.
- Once your phone or device is bluebugged, the hacker can make and listen to calls, read and send messages, and modify or steal your contacts.
- A bluebugging hacker must be within a 10-meter range (Bluetooth signal range) of your device for the bluebugging attack to work. However, hackers can use booster antennas to widen the attack range.
- Your device’s Bluetooth must be in discoverable mode, which is the default setting for most devices.
When does bluebugging happen?
- Bluebugging can happen whenever you’re within a 10-meter radius of a hacker and your Bluetooth is enabled on your device.
- Any Bluetooth-enabled device can be bluebugged, but smartphones are most vulnerable to these types of hacking. After all, most of us leave our Bluetooth on in public places, where hackers may be lurking.
What’s the difference between bluebugging, bluesnarfing, and bluejacking?
- Bluejacking uses Bluetooth to pair with your device to “prank” you. Usually, bluejacking hackers send you annoying pictures or messages to promote products.
- Bluesnarfing uses Bluetooth to hack into your device to download sensitive data, such as images, phone book information, and messages.
- Bluebugging lets a hacker take control of your entire device, letting them make calls and send messages, for example.
How to prevent bluebugging
Bluebugging attacks work by abusing Bluetooth-enabled devices.
Here are five ways to safeguard your Bluetooth devices:
- Update your devices. Most devices make Bluetooth discoverable by default, leaving your devices susceptible to unsolicited connections. Update your old devices to apply the latest security patches, which usually address known vulnerabilities. Or turn your Bluetooth off when you aren’t using it.
- Make your Bluetooth devices “undiscoverable”. To make a device undiscoverable, access the Bluetooth settings. Most devices will allow this change. Your device being undiscoverable will help keep it invisible to hackers so they can’t try to pair with it.
- Reject strange messages. Always delete messages from strangers and never click on any links within them. Sometimes these links download malware onto your device, which could help initiate data theft on an even larger scale.
- Watch out for suspicious activity. If your phone is suddenly disconnecting and reconnecting calls, or if you notice messages that haven’t been sent by you, it could indicate that someone is controlling your device. Reset the device to its factory settings or uninstall any apps you don’t recognize.
- Monitor sudden spikes in data usage. If the amount of data you use suddenly spikes beyond reason, someone could be controlling and/or using your device as part of a botnet that eats up your data.
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