Explained | What is Bluebugging and how to safeguard your phone

Last Updated 30 November 2022, 13:16 IST

Over the last decade, smartphones have become so ubiquitous, they now become an extension of our lives. The convenience it offers is unparalleled compared to any gadget in the world. With the phone, people can hail a cab, order food, create presentations and even attend an office or virtual class anytime anywhere.

However, if we don't exercise caution while doing online transactions, it can cost us big time. Cybercriminals are coming up with ingenious ways to hoodwink gullible smartphone users to steal their financial details and even personal information to seek a ransom.

We have already carried an article on what is Phishing and how threat actors convince potential victims to voluntarily share their details and how to safeguard from such tactics.

Here in this segment, we are exploring a new hacking technique employed by criminals to hijack a phone via Bluebugging.

What is Bluebugging?
Innovations in smartphones and computers are reducing the dependence on wired connectivity be it for tethering to earphones or for charging. Now, most phones don't even come with a 3.5mm audio jack and most companies are forcing people to embrace wireless earbuds and headphones.

And, this means, the devices should have Bluetooth activation on at all times. However, this leaves the former vulnerable to getting highjacked through the Bluebugging (aka Bluejacking/Bluesnarfing) technique.

The hacker just needs to be around 10 meters from the victim's phone and uses brute force pairing technology to connect with the phone if you have kept the Bluetooth discoverable on.

The criminal then can get into the victim's phone and install malware to steal sensitive details be it official corporate 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 always updating themselves with new technologies to misuse any security loophole in the mobile device's hardware or software.

Here's How to safeguard yourself from Bluebugging
1) Always keep your device updated with the latest software or whenever your smartphone-maker rolls out any security software patch
2) Avoid accessing public Wi-Fi facilities and whenever you get any request to receive a message or file from an unknown device via Bluetooth, just reject it and move on
3) America's NSA (National Security Agency) advises users to reboot their phones or any device with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi support, whenever they access a public wireless internet connection
4) Avoid using personal names for the device's hotspot sharing or Bluetooth connection
5) Its good practice to have an anti-virus application on your system and scan regularly for early detection of any malware or weed out suspicious apps
6) While connected to public internet service, never shop on e-commerce websites nor do any financial transactions online
7) Always track your Bluetooth connections by regularly checking what devices are currently connected to your phone/computer
8) Do not use Bluetooth to exchange or share passwords or sensitive data

Get the latest news on new launches, gadget reviews, apps, cybersecurity, and more on personal technology only on DH Tech.

(Published 30 November 2022, 11:52 IST)

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