If you are using a Bluetooth enabled device, be it a smartphone, laptop, smart TV or any other IoT device, you are at risk of malware attacks that can carry out remotely to take over your device even without requiring any interaction from your side. Security researchers have just discovered total 8 zero-day vulnerabilities in Bluetooth protocol that impact more than 5.3 Billion devices—from Android, iOS, Windows and Linux to the Internet of things (IoT) devices—using the short-range wireless communication technology. Using these vulnerabilities, security researchers at IoT security firm Armis have devised an attack, dubbed BlueBorne, which could allow attackers to completely take over Bluetooth-enabled devices, spread malware, or even establish a “man-in-the-middle” connection to gain access to devices’ critical data and networks without requiring any victim interaction.
All an attacker need is for the victim’s device to have Bluetooth turned on and obviously, in close proximity to the attacker’s device. Moreover, successful exploitation doesn’t even require vulnerable devices to be paired with the attacker’s device.
What’s more worrisome is that the BlueBorne attack could spread like the wormable WannaCry ransomware that emerged earlier this year and wreaked havoc by disrupting large companies and organisations worldwide. Ben Seri, head of research team at Armis Labs, claims that during an experiment in the lab, his team was able to create a botnet network and install ransomware using the BlueBorne attack.
However, Seri believes that it is difficult for even a skilled attacker to create a universal wormable exploit that could find Bluetooth-enabled devices, target all platform together and spread automatically from one infected device to others.
“Unfortunately, this set of capabilities is extremely desirable to a hacker. BlueBorne can serve any malicious objective, such as cyber espionage, data theft, ransomware, and even creating large botnets out of IoT devices like the Mirai Botnet or mobile devices as with the recent WireX Botnet,” Armis said. “The BlueBorne attack vector surpasses the capabilities of most attack vectors by penetrating secure “air-gapped” networks which are disconnected from any other network, including the internet.”
Apply Security Patches to Prevent Bluetooth Hacking
The security firm responsibly disclosed the vulnerabilities to all the major affected companies a few months ago—including Google, Apple and Microsoft, Samsung and Linux Foundation.
These vulnerabilities include:
- Information Leak Vulnerability in Android (CVE-2017-0785)
- Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (CVE-2017-0781) in Android’s Bluetooth Network Encapsulation Protocol (BNEP) service
- Remote Code Execution Vulnerability (CVE-2017-0782) in Android BNEP’s Personal Area Networking (PAN) profile
- The Bluetooth Pineapple in Android—Logical flaw (CVE-2017-0783)
- Linux kernel Remote Code Execution vulnerability (CVE-2017-1000251)
- Linux Bluetooth stack (BlueZ) information leak vulnerability (CVE-2017-1000250)
- The Bluetooth Pineapple in Windows—Logical flaw (CVE-2017-8628)
- Apple Low Energy Audio Protocol Remote Code Execution vulnerability (CVE Pending)“Microsoft released security updates in July and customers who have Windows Update enabled and applied the security updates, are protected automatically. We updated to protect customers as soon as possible, but as a responsible industry partner, we withheld disclosure until other vendors could develop and release updates.” – A Microsoft spokesperson said.
- Google and Microsoft have already made security patches available to their customers, while Apple iOS devices running the most recent version of its mobile operating system (that is 10.x) are safe.
What’s worst? All iOS devices with 9.3.5 or older versions and over 1.1 Billion active Android devices running older than Marshmallow (6.x) are vulnerable to the BlueBorne attack. Moreover, millions of smart Bluetooth devices running a version of Linux are also vulnerable to the attack. Commercial and consumer-oriented Linux platform (Tizen OS), BlueZ and 3.3-rc1 are also vulnerable to at least one of the BlueBorne bugs. Android users need to wait for security patches for their devices, as it depends on your device manufacturers. In the meantime, they can install “BlueBorne Vulnerability Scanner” app (created by Armis team) from Google Play Store to check if their devices are vulnerable to BlueBorne attack or not. If found vulnerable, you are advised to turn off Bluetooth on your device when not in use.