New Bluetooth Vulnerability Appears, It's Called Blueborne

EnlargeFord Asia Pacific

EnlargeFord Asia Pacific

The discovery is being described as an "attack vector endangering major mobile, desktop, and IoT operating systems, including Android, iOS, Windows, and Linux, and the devices using them".

What makes BlueBorne special is that unlike similar attacks such as the recent one against Broadcom Wi-Fi chips, which also happened to be airborne, the BlueBorne attack doesn't affect only the peripherals of a device but can give an attacker full control over the infected device right from the start.

The attacks can be fully automated and they don't require any user interaction, as attackers can force vulnerable devices to open Bluetooth connections. There is no indication to date that the BlueBorne vulnerabilities have been exploited in the wild by attackers. According to Armis Labs, BlueBorne can easily affect PCs and mobile phones since there is no need to pair the device with the targeted device.

However, he said he's not aware of any exploitation of these holes. The first is that as we discussed recently, Bluetooth 5 now offers "meshing" which means, in certain extreme circumstances, the range could be huge, not just limited to one device.

"Companies don't monitor these types of device-to-device connections in their environment, so they can't see these attacks or stop them", he added.

While the vulnerabilities vary by severity and platform, the worst affected are Android devices, and older iPhones and iPads.

Although you're not likely at risk from BlueBorne, it's a good idea to keep Bluetooth turned off on your device when you're not using it.

A set of eight security vulnerabilities in widely used Bluetooth stacks used by Microsoft, Google and Linux has been publicly disclosed.

Android and Linux systems can be tricked into revealing information stored in memory to a nearby malicious device.

Apple was contacted in August but it had no vulnerability in its current versions. For Apple, devices with iOS 9.3.5 and lower, plus Apple TVs on version 7.2.2 and lower are vulnerable.

The BlueBorne vulnerability is invisible to users and is able to spread from device to device on its own.

Examples of impacted devices include Samsung Gear S3, Samsung Smart TVs, and Samsung Family Hub.

A technical report on the BlueBorne flaws is available here. This was on the unpatched Pixel device though, and it does not seem that it can be recreated on a device with the patch installed. Google is patching the problem for devices running Android 4.4.4 KitKat and later, which covers the vast majority of active Android devices. Google and Microsoft are releasing updates and patches on Tuesday, September 12.

If you have something to say about Blueborne, drop your thoughts in the comments. Attackers can hack into cellphones and computers simply because they had Bluetooth on.

Check Armis' page on the exploit along with the respective white paper (PDF) explaining BlueBorne in detail.

The root cause behind the multiple vulnerabilites is an overly complex Bluetooth specification that spans 2822 pages.

Armis notes that a particularly distressing aspect of the Blueborne attack is that it can be used to infect systems owners thought were secured by not being connected to the internet.

"The research illustrates the types of threats facing us in this new connected age", said Dibrov.

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