What is Bluesnarfing and how to prevent it?

We live in a world where information reigns supreme, a world where our use of data propels us ahead. This is, for the most part, a good thing. Information aids us in making better decisions, enriching our lives, and improving the lives of those around us. However, there is a dark side to information, a place in the shadows where individuals who desire to exploit the information of others can be found. Others take information for personal benefit, while others are merely nosy. The latter is more critical since it has far-reaching consequences. Bluesnarfing is a method used by burglars to accomplish this.

What is a Bluesnarfing Attack?

In a bluesnarfing attack, a cybercriminal or hacker gains access to a victim's phone data. This is achievable if the targeted phone has Bluetooth turned on and is "discoverable," which means it is visible, and the adjacent devices can be paired. The hacker uses the flaws in the object exchange (OBEX) protocol on the target device, which sends data between devices and is a crucial component of Bluetooth.

Bluesnarfing can also affect computers and other Bluetooth-enabled devices, although their advanced security protocols make this a less severe concern than it is with phones. Computer programmers use "snarfing" to describe copying data over a network without permission.

How Does Bluesnarfing Work?

To carry out this form of attack, a hacker connects their phone to the victim's, allowing the hacker to access and retrieve data from the linked phone. This is usually done with a tool like Bluediving, which detects vulnerabilities in surrounding devices.

The hacker's goal is typically to steal sensitive data from the targeted phone, such as emails, text messages, contact lists, calendar entries, passwords, photos, or videos. Experienced programmers can create their bluesnarfing tools, download one from the dark web, or even hire someone else to carry out the attack. The hacker may even change the data saved on the target device in rare situations. The target phone owner is frequently unaware that anything has happened during a bluesnarfing assault.

Unless they have special equipment, the hacker must be within 30 feet (10 meters) of the victim's phone to be successful. Bluesniping is a sort of Bluesnarfing. The hacker utilizes equipment to extend the range of the associated phone, allowing it to attack devices that are further away than the Bluetooth range.

Is Bluesnarfing Something to Be Concerned About?

Fortunately, future Bluetooth technology updates closed the loophole of the missing authentication process. You've probably noticed that most smartphones and other Bluetooth-enabled smart gadgets now have built-in authentication, making bluesnarfing attacks more difficult to carry out. This authentication takes the form of a pairing request followed by request to type your PIN or password to connect.

What Can You Do to Avoid Bluesnarfing?

Because the attack relies on Bluetooth connections, the most apparent and secure approach to defend against it is to switch off the Bluetooth capability on your device when it's not in use. Other ways to avoid becoming a victim of Bluesnarfing include −

  • Make your identification number (PIN) at least eight characters long to make it more difficult for attackers to guess.

  • Use your phone's security features, such as two-factor authentication, to your advantage (2FA). All connection requests will require your consent in this manner.

  • Accepting pairing requests from unknown devices is not a good idea.

  • Turn off the discovery feature to make your phone invisible to unknown devices.

With the increase in the number of devices connected, the number of cyberattacks attempting to gain unauthorized access to those devices increases. The most straightforward approach to avoid Bluesnarfing is to turn off your Bluetooth while not in use.

Bluesnarfing attacks are on the decline since most devices have built-in authentication. However, if you have an older phone with Bluetooth capability, you should keep it in non-discoverable/hidden mode for added security. Accepting Bluetooth pairing requests from unknown devices is never a good idea.

Although hacks such as Bluesnarfing are frightening, you can protect your phone and data by remaining vigilant and knowledgeable on simple digital security measures!