Redirected from Bluetooth
2 Wireless- History
3 Wireless- Technologies
4 Bluetooth- Technical Introduction
5 Bluetooth- Advantages
6 Bluetooth- Applications
7 Bluetooth- Security Issues
7.1 The SNARF attack
7.2 The BACKDOOR attack
7.3 The BLUEBUG attack
8 Future of Bluetooth
9 See also:
10 Reference List
Bluetooth is a new technology that utilises radio frequency waves as a way to communicate wirelessly between digital devices. It sets up personal area networks that incorporate all of a persons digital devices into one system for both convergence and convenience.
Many people put the invention of [wireless] radio down to Guglielmo Marconi, who in 1895 sent the first radio telegraph transmission across the English Channel. Only twelve years later radio began being used in the public sphere. [Mathias, p.2] Up until then however, many wireless pioneers conducted trials across lakes where the antenna used to transmit the signal was longer than the distance across the lake. [Brodsky, p. 3] After its introduction the main use of wireless radio was for military communications where its first use was for the Boer War. [Flichy, p. 103] The invention of broadcast radio ensured the feasibility of wireless technologies. [Morrow, p. 2] By the 1920s, radio had become a well-recognised mass medium. [Flichy, p. 111] From the 1980s until now, wireless communications have been through several stages, from 1G (analogue signal), 2G (digital signal) and 3G (always on, faster data rate). [Lightman and Rojas, p. 3] The history of Bluetooth is a much more recent one, with the first Bluetooth-enabled products coming into existence in 2000. Named after Harald Blatand the first, king of Denmark around twelve hundred years ago, who joined the Danish and Norwegian kingdoms, Bluetooth technology is founded on this same unifying principle of being able to unite the computer and telecommunication industr[ies]. [Ganguli, p. 5] In 1994 the Ericsson Company began looking into the idea of replacing cables connecting accessories to mobile phones and computers with wireless links, and this became the main inspiration behind Bluetooth. [Morrow, p. 10]
Bluetooth is not the only wireless technology currently being developed and utilised. Other wireless technologies, including 802.11b, otherwise known as Wi-Fi, Infrared Data Association (IrDA), Ultra- Wideband Radio (UWB), and Home RF are being applied to similar technologies that Bluetooth use with mixed results. 802.11 is the most well known technology, excluding Bluetooth, and uses the same radio frequency, meaning that they are not compatible as they cause interference with each other. 802.11 is being implemented into universities in the US, Japan and China, as well as food and beverage shops where they are being used to identify students and customers. Even airports have taken up the 802.11 technology, with airports all over America, and three of Americas most prominent airlines promoting the use of it. [Lightman and Rojas, p. 202-3] Infrared Data Association is extremely inferior to that of Bluetooth. Its limitations include only being able to communicate point-to-point, needing a line of sight, and it has a speed of fifty- six kilobytes per second, whereas Bluetooth is one megabyte per second. [Ganguli, p. 17] The Ultra- Wideband Radio is superior to that of Bluetooth in that it can transmit at greater lengths (up to 70 metres), with only half of the power that Bluetooth uses. [Ganguli, p.17] HomeRF is a technology that is not very well known. It is used for data and voice communication and targeted for the residential market segment and does not serve enterprise- class WLANs, public access systems or fixed wireless Internet access. [Ganguli, p.17-18]
Bluetooth- Technical Introduction
Bluetooth is a short- range radio device that replaces cables with low power radio waves to connect electronic devices, whether they are portable or fixed. The Bluetooth device also uses frequency hopping to ensure a secure, quality link, and it uses ad hoc networks, meaning that it connects peer-to-peer. It can be operated worldwide and without a network because it uses the unlicensed Industrial- Scientific Medical (ISM) band for transmission that varies with a change in location. [Ganguli, p. 25-6] The Bluetooth user has the choice of point-to-point or point-to-multipoint links whereby communication can be held between two devices, or up to eight. [Ganguli, p. 96] When devices are communicating with each other they are known as piconets, and each device is designated as a master unit or slave unit, usually depending on who initiates the connection. However, both devices have the potential to be either a master or a slave. [Swaminatha and Elden, p. 49]
There are many advantages to using Bluetooth wireless technologies including the use of a radio frequency, the inexpensive cost of the device, replacing tedious cable connections, the low power use and implemented security measures. The use of an unlicensed radio frequency ensures that users do not need to gain a license in order to use it. Unlike Infrared which needs to have a line of sight in order to work, Bluetooth radio waves are omnidirectional and do not need a clear path. The device itself is relatively cheap and easy to use, one can be bought for around ten American dollars, and this price is currently decreasing. Compare this to the expensive cost of implementing hundreds of cables and wires into an office and there is no competition. Of course, this is the main reason for the take -up in Bluetooth -enabled devices; it does away with cables. Another of Bluetooths advantages is its low power use, ensuring that battery operated devices such as mobile phones and personal digital assistants wont have their battery life drained with the use of it. This low power consumption also guarantees minimal interruption from other radio operated and wireless devices that operate at a higher power. Bluetooth has several enabled security measures that ensures a level of privacy and security, including frequency hopping, whereby the device changes radio frequency sixteen hundred times per second. Also within the security tools are encryption and authentification mechanisms that guarantee little interference by unauthorised hackers. [Ganguli, p. 330] One of the best advantages of Bluetooth devices, especially the hands free device that connects to a mobile phone, is that it removes radiation from the brain region. [Tsang, p.1]
The applications that are in development or current use for the Bluetooth technology include such areas as automotive, medical, industrial equipment, output equipment, digital -still cameras, computers, and communications systems. [Lightman and Rojas, p. 201] Bluetooth is an ad hoc network user, and therefore it may be used for social networking, i.e. people can meet and share files or link their Bluetooth devices together to play games or other such activities. [Smyth, p. 70] Using Bluetooth, a mobile phone can become a three- way phone, where at home it connects to a landline for cheaper calls, on the move it acts as a mobile phone and when it comes in contact with another Bluetooth-enabled phone it acts as a walkie- talkie. This walkie- talkie option allows for free interaction and communication, as Bluetooth is not connected to any telecommunications network. [Gupta, p.1] Bluetooth also allows automatic synchronization of your desktop, mobile computer, notebook and your mobile phone for the user to have all of their data managed as one. [Gupta, p.1]
Bluetooth- Security Issues
Bluetooth has several threats which range in level of risk and how widespread the action is. These threats have the ability to provide criminals with sensitive information on both corporate and personal levels. The only way to avoid such threats is for manufacturers, distributors, and consumers to be provided with more information on how they are committed, current attack activity and how to combat them. This information can be used on a technical level for manufacturers, it can be used by distributors at retail levels to teach consumers the risks and it can be used directly by consumers to be aware of the threats. The outcome of such research will allow end users of Bluetooth products to have an upper hand in this wireless warfare. Bluetooth security is in early stages with regards to both the attackers, their techniques and consumers understanding of these attacks. Some research has been conducted into what the attackers are doing and how they do it. Adam Laurie of A.L Digital Ltd http://www.thebunker.net/release-bluestumbler.htm is leading the research race in Bluetooth security and is often linked to academic resources. Laurie’s research has uncovered the following capabilities of Bluetooth attacks:
- Confidential data such as the entire phone book, calender and the phone’s IMEI.
- Complete memory contents of some mobile phones can be accessed by a previously trusted (“paired”) device that has since been removed from the trusted list.
- Access can be gained to the AT command set of the device, giving full access to the higher level commands and channels, such as data, voice and messaging.
Attacks on Bluetooth devices at this stage are relatively new to consumers, and therefore are not widely seen as a real threat. Attacks such as the Bluejack attack are probably more recognised by consumers due to its perceived humorous and novelty nature as well as the ease to Bluejack someone. Users who allow their phone to be Bluejacked open the door to more serious attacks, such as the Backdoor attack which have a low level of awareness amongst consumers as attackers can attach to the device with out the users knowledge. Corporations are starting to understand the risks Bluetooth devices pose, Michael Ciarochi (in Brewin 2004) stated that ‘Bluetooth radios were included in laptop PCs that were being configured by an IT Engineer. It raises the possibility of opening a wireless back door into data stored on the PCs. Such a security weakness would be extremely attractive to hackers. Although Bluetooth invites hackers to such attacks; Bluetooth Venders are playing down the risks, Brewin (2004) said that ‘Bluetooth advocates last week dismissed growing security fears about the short-range wireless technology, saying any flaws are limited to a few mobile-phone models. They also detailed steps that users can take to secure Bluetooth devices’. There are many methods of Bluetooth attacks, the Snarf, the Backdoor, Bluebug, Bluejack and Warnibbling attack are the only recognised attacks at this early stage. Below are explanations of such attacks.
The SNARF attack
It is possible for attackers to connect to the device without alerting the user, once in the system sensitive data can be retrieved, such as the phone book, business cards, images, messages and voice messages.
Local Copy: BlueSnarf_CeBIT2004.pdf
The BACKDOOR attack
The backdoor attack is a higher concern for Bluetooth users; it allows attackers to establishing a trust relationship through the “pairing” mechanism, but ensuring that the user can not see the target’s register of paired devices. In doing this attackers have access to all the data on the device, as well as access to use the modem or internet; WAP and GPRS gateways may be accessed without the owner’s knowledge or consent.
The BLUEBUG attack
This attack gives access to the AT command set, in other words it allows the attacker to make premium priced phone calls, allows the use of SMS, or connection the internet. Attackers can not only use the device for such fraudulent exercises it also allows identity theft to impersonate the user.
Dibble (2004) explained that ‘Just as SMS was spawned, there’s a new craze that’s spreading across parts of Europe. Reportedly, it’s more prominent in the UK, but popular elsewhere too’. Bluejacking allows attackers to send messages to strangers in public via Bluetooth. When the phones ‘pair’ the attacked can write a message to the user. Although it may seem harmless at first, there is a downside. Once connected the attacker may then have access to any data on the users Bluetooth device, which has obvious concerns. Powell (2004: 22) explained that ‘Users can refuse any incoming message or data, so Bluejackers change their username to a short barb or compliment to beat you to the punch. For example, you might receive something along the lines of “Incoming message from: Dude, you’ve been Bluejacked.” Or, “Incoming message from: ROI is overrated.” Bluejacking is regarded as a smaller threat to Bluetooth as users being attacked are aware they have been Bluejacked. This does not mean however that they are aware that sensitive information is being accessed and used in a malicious manner.
Warnibbling is a hacking technique using Redfang, or similar software that allows hackers to reveal corporate or personal sensitive information. Redfang allows hackers to find Bluetooth devices in the area, once found, the software takes you through the process of accessing any data that is stored on that device. Redfang also allows non-discoverable devices to be found. Whitehouse explains when testing Redfang ‘One of the first obstacles we had to overcome was the discovery of non-discoverable devices (it was surprising to see the number of devices that dont by default implement this security measure)’. http://www.atstake.com/research/reports/acrobat/atstake_war_nibbling.pdf
Future of Bluetooth
Further information, and somewhat speculation is required for consumers and Bluetooth stakeholders on the future of Bluetooth. Such information will provide a clearer understanding of why security of Bluetooth must be improved. Luo and Lee (2004) provide a short term prediction of where Bluetooth is heading, Europe and Asian countries already offer electronic newspapers, subway tickets, and car parking fees via wireless devices. Collins (2003) says that Bluetooth devices ‘appear to be more secure than 802.11 wireless LANs. However, this situation may not last, as the Bluetooth technology becomes more widespread and attracts greater interest from the hacking community’.
- Bluetooth – Bluejacking
- Bluetooth – Future
- Bluetooth – Security – Snarf Attack
- Bluetooth – Security Issues
- Brodsky, I. (1995) Wireless: The Revolution in Personal Telecommunications, Massachussetts, USA: Artech House Inc, ISBN 0890067171 (Erin Watson)
- Collins, G. (2003) Bluetooth Security. Byte.com [Online], Available: Academic Search Elite, ISSN:0360-5280 [Accessed 6/9/04]. (Ben Henzell)
- Dibble, T (2003) ‘Bluejack city: a new wireless craze is spreading through Europe’ [Online]. Available: http://www.sys-con.com/Wireless/article.cfm?id=710 [Accessed 4/8/04. (Ben Henzell)
- Finn, E. (2004) Be carefull when you cut the cord. Popular Science [Online], vol. 264, issue. 5, p30. Available: Ebsco Host: Academic Search Elite, ISSN:0161-7370 [Accessed 6/9/04]. (Ben Henzell)
- Flichy, P. (1995) Dynamics of Modern Communication, London: Sage Publications, ISBN 0803978502 (Erin Watson)
- Ganguli, M. (2002) Getting Started with Bluetooth, Ohio: Premier Press, ISBN 1931841837 (Erin Watson)
- Gupta, P. 1999. Bluetooth Technology: What are the Applications?. http://www.mobileinfo.com/Bluetooth/applic.htm (accessed August 23, 2004). (Erin Watson)
- Laurie, B & L (2003) Serious flaws in Bluetooth security lead to disclosure of personal data [Online]. Available: http://www.thebunker.net/release-bluestumbler.htm [Accessed 4th Aug 2004]. (Ben Henzell)
- Lightman, A. and Rojas, W. (2002) Brave New Unwired World, New York, USA: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., ISBN 0471441104 (Erin Watson)
- Luo, X. Lee, C. (2004). Micropayments in Wireless M-Commerce: Issues, Security, and Trend[Online]. Available: http://www.arraydev.com/commerce/jibc/0402-10.htm [Accessed 4/8/2004] (Ben Henzell)
- Morrow, R. (2002) Bluetooth Operation and Use, New York, USA: The McGraw- Hill Companies, ISBN 007138779X (Erin Watson)
- Powell, W. (2004) The Wild Wild Web T+D [Online], Vol. 58, issue. 1, p22. Available: Academic Search Elite, ISSN:1535-7740 [Accessed 6/9/04]. (Ben Henzell)
- Smyth, P. (ed.)(2004) Mobile and Wireless Communications: Key Technologies and Future Applications, London, UK: The Institute of Electrical Engineers, ISBN 0863413684 (Erin Watson)
- Swaminatha, T. and Elden, C. (2003) Wireless Security and Privacy: Best Practices and Design Techniques, Massachussetts, USA: Pearson Education, Inc., ISBN 0201760347 (Erin Watson)
- Tsang, W. et al. Date unknown. Bluetooth Applications. http://ntrg.cs.tcd.ie/undergrad/4ba2.01/group3/applications.html (accessed August 23, 2004). (Erin Watson)
- Whitehouse, O. (2003).’War Nibbling: Bluetooth Insecurity’ [Online]. Available: http://www.atstake.com/research/reports/acrobat/atstake_war_nibbling.pdf [Accessed 9/8/04] (Ben Henzell)