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BlueBorne vulnerabilities: Are your Bluetooth devices safe?

Armis Labs discovered a series of vulnerabilities that enables remote connection to Bluetooth devices. Learn more about the BlueBorne vulnerabilities with expert Matt Pascucci.

A series of Bluetooth vulnerabilities was discovered by researchers at Armis Labs, which dubbed the collection...

BlueBorne. How serious are these BlueBorne vulnerabilities? Should enterprises consider disabling Bluetooth access to their mobile devices?

Last month, a series of Bluetooth vulnerabilities was discovered by research firm Armis Inc. that enables remote connection to a device without the affected users noticing.

The vulnerabilities were reported on Android, Linux, Windows and iOS devices. These vendors were all contacted to create patches for the BlueBorne vulnerabilities and worked with Armis via a responsible disclosure of the exploit. The concern now is the vast amount of Bluetooth devices that might not update efficiently. This concern, combined with working with Android devices to have the update go out to all its manufacturers, will be the biggest hurdle when remediating the BlueBorne vulnerabilities.

The BlueBorne vulnerabilities enable attackers to perform remote code execution and man-in-the-middle attacks. This attack is dangerous because of the broad range of Bluetooth devices out in the wild and the ease with which an attacker can remotely connect to them and intercept traffic. With this exploit, an attacker doesn't have to be paired with the victim's device; the victim's device can be paired with something else, and it doesn't have to be set on the discoverable mode. Essentially, if you have an unpatched system running on any Bluetooth devices, then your vulnerability is high.

However, the affected vendors have done a good job releasing patches for the BlueBorne vulnerabilities. Microsoft patched the bug in a July release and Apple's iOS isn't affected in iOS 10. The issue is with Android, which is historically slow to patch vulnerabilities, and will have to work with its

The BlueBorne vulnerabilities enable attackers to perform remote code execution and man-in-the-middle attacks.

vendors to have the patch pushed down.

Likewise, the larger issue will be with all of the smart devices and internet of things devices that are installed on networks, meaning your TVs, keyboards, lightbulbs and headphones could all be vulnerable. There's probably a smaller risk of data being exposed on these devices, but they can still intercept information and be used as a way to propagate the issue further.

Another concern with these vulnerabilities is the possibility of a worm being created, released in a crowded area and potentially spreading itself through devices in close proximity to each other. Particular exploits might not work on all phones in this case, but it could still be possible given the right code and circumstance. For example, if the worm was released in a stadium or large crowd, then it could theoretically spread if the systems haven't been properly patched.

Being able to perform code injection to take over a system or create man-in-the-middle attacks, which can be used to steal information, is extremely worrisome. These attacks are happening inside the firewall and don't need to join your network in order to be executed. This is essentially like a backdoor that enables attackers to compromise systems from a distance and within your network.

It is extremely important that you patch all systems if you have the capability to do so, or that you disable Bluetooth devices when they're not needed.

Ask the expert:
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This was last published in December 2017

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Do you think that the vendors developed patches for their devices in a reasonable way? Should Android have reacted differently to the BlueBorne vulnerability?
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