Have you been ‘Blue’Bugged?
If you answer YES to any of these two questions, then this post is for you.
- Have you ever been “bluebugged” or have been a victim of “bluebugging”?
- Do you keep Bluetooth on your phone or laptop on always and keep the device discoverable?
If you are the kind of person who always leaves Bluetooth on and the phone in discoverable mode, here is some bad news for you. Your phone could potentially & inadvertently act as a gateway to your personal information for anyone who is within a range of 10–15 meters.
Bluebugging is slang or short-form for a Bluetooth-based #hacking attack that allows hackers to access all the features of your phone. 10–15 meters is the transmitting range of a commonly used class 2 Bluetooth radio. This range may also be extended by using some antennas.
German researcher Martin Herfurt demonstrated Bluebugging in 2004 and initially used it to target laptops with Bluetooth radios by bugging them to eavesdrop on emails and other conversations. It is now extendable to most devices that have Bluetooth sensors.
First comes pairing with a phone or device with open & discoverable Bluetooth. When successful, the hacker can remotely install a malware package to fake authorization. Then a hacker may be able to read all your messages, monitor phone calls, see your contacts, browse through emails, etc.
The 1st thing you can do is to make sure you turn off Bluetooth when it's not in use. The 2nd thing you can do is to make sure that your device is not discoverable or visible to other devices by default (change these in Bluetooth settings as they may be on by default).
You may not even know if you have been ‘bluebugged’ - unless you look for specific signs of it. Some indications of your device being hacked are:
- Strange and inappropriate pop-ups
- Battery draining quickly
- Poor device performance
- Bluetooth devices getting hot
You should also consider scrapping all the paired devices in your list that you don’t frequently use. Be especially wary of connecting to unknown Wi-Fi networks or pairing with unrecognized devices over Bluetooth.
While it seems and is a hassle to turn on BlueTooth and explicitly connect to your earphones or to your car audio every time, I sincerely hope you do not want to compromise on privacy and will follow better security practices.