BlueBorne represents a cluster of security vulnerabilities that affect Bluetooth devices across various operating systems, including Windows, Android, Linux, and iOS. These vulnerabilities allow a cyber attacker to take control of devices, access corporate data and networks, infiltrate secure “air-gapped” networks, and spread malware laterally to adjacent devices. BlueBorne attacks occur over the air via Bluetooth, requiring no link pairing or device discoverability, making it highly stealthy and dangerous.
Discovered in April 2017 by the cybersecurity research team at Armis Labs, BlueBorne alarmed the tech community due to its widespread impact. The researchers identified that the vulnerabilities affected billions of devices using Bluetooth for communication. The origin of its name, “BlueBorne,” stems from its mode of transmission (Bluetooth) and the fact that it spreads through the air like a disease (borne). It was a wake-up call to the industry, highlighting the importance of Bluetooth security and the potential risks of always-on, pervasive wireless communication.
While the term “practical application” often implies positive uses, in the case of BlueBorne, the practical application refers to its exploitation by malicious entities. Cybersecurity professionals and ethical hackers, however, use the knowledge of BlueBorne in penetration testing and vulnerability assessments to strengthen the security posture of Bluetooth-enabled devices. By simulating BlueBorne attacks, they can identify weaknesses within systems and patch them before malicious attackers exploit them.
The revelation of BlueBorne has significant benefits for the cybersecurity community and technology users at large. Firstly, it led to a concerted effort to patch vulnerable systems, prompting updates across billions of devices. This vulnerability also underscored the necessity of ongoing security protocols in the design and update of Bluetooth technology, resulting in more robust security standards. Moreover, awareness of BlueBorne has increased vigilance among users and developers, leading to more prudent Bluetooth usage and the adoption of safer pairing and connectivity practices.
You can determine if your device is affected by checking for security updates related to BlueBorne for your specific device and operating system. Many manufacturers released patches after the vulnerabilities were disclosed.
No, BlueBorne exploits active Bluetooth connections. If Bluetooth is turned off, the attack vector is not present. However, it is important to maintain security practices as some devices can have Bluetooth enabled without explicit user consent.
If your device is vulnerable, apply all available security patches from the device manufacturer. If no patches are available, consider disabling Bluetooth when not in use and remaining vigilant about the security of the devices your Bluetooth-enabled devices connect to.