What is Bluebugging and how to safeguard your phone

Over the past decade, smartphones have become so ubiquitous that they have now become an extension of our lives. The convenience it offers is unmatched by any gadget in the world. With a phone, people can hail a taxi, order food, create presentations, and even visit an office or virtual classroom anytime, anywhere.

However, if we are not careful while doing online transactions, it can cost us a lot of time. Cybercriminals are devising ingenious ways to trick gullible smartphone users into stealing their financial and even personal information in order to collect ransom money.

We’ve already covered what phishing is, how threat actors convince potential victims to voluntarily share their data, and how to protect yourself from such tactics.

Here in this segment we explore a new hacking technique used by criminals to hijack a phone through Bluebugging.

What is Bluebugging?

Innovations in smartphones and computers reduce dependence on wired connections, whether it’s connecting to headphones or charging. Now most phones don’t even have a 3.5mm audio jack and most companies are forcing people to accept wireless headphones.

This means that devices should always have Bluetooth enabled on. However, this leaves the former vulnerable to being highjacked by Bluebugging (aka Bluejacking/Bluesnarfing).

The hacker only needs to be about 10 meters away from the victim’s phone and uses brute force pairing technology to connect to the phone if you have Bluetooth turned on.

The criminal can then get into the victim’s phone and install malware to steal sensitive details, be it official company secrets or private videos/photos, or even install tracking firmware to stalk you.

It should be noted that modern phones have security measures in place to thwart Bluebugging or related wireless hacking attempts, but cybercriminals are constantly updating themselves with new technologies to exploit any security loophole in a mobile device’s hardware or software.

Here’s how to protect yourself from Bluebugging

  1. Always keep your device updated with the latest software or whenever your smartphone manufacturer implements any security software patch
  2. Avoid accessing public Wi-Fi devices and whenever you get any request to receive a message or file from an unknown device over Bluetooth, just decline it and continue
  3. The US NSA (National Security Agency) advises users to restart their phones or any Bluetooth or Wi-Fi-enabled device whenever they connect to a public wireless Internet connection.
  4. Do not use personal names to share device hotspot or Bluetooth connection
  5. It is a good practice to have an anti-virus application on your system and regularly scan for early detection of any malware or kill suspicious applications
  6. If you are connected to a public internet service, never shop on e-commerce websites or do any financial transactions online
  7. Always monitor your Bluetooth connections by periodically checking which devices are currently connected to your phone/computer
  8. Do not use Bluetooth to exchange or share passwords or sensitive data

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