Computer Crime Research Center


Bluetooth targeted by hackers

Date: June 21, 2005
Source: New York Daily News
By: Nick McDonell

The latest in wireless technology may have some strings attached.

Bluetooth - the widely used technology that allows mobile devices to communicate without wires - may be susceptible to hacking, according to a study presented last week.

Two Israeli researchers found that most sophisticated hackers - armed with a special radio receiver and a computer - could easily crack the codes used to encrypt Bluetooth signals.

While the researchers did not actually steal communications, Bluetooth officials told the Wall Street Journal that the study was a "wakeup call to manufacturers."

The problem lies in the default codes used by makers of cell phones, wireless headsets, computers and other electronic devices.

Although the codes can be random arrays of letters and numbers, they are often simple four-digit codes. In fact, many headset manufacturers set theirs at 0-0-0-0 - and users don't bother to change them.

The vulnerability of the Bluetooth system seemed obvious to some users, who say they have become familiar with hacking subculture terms such as bluejacking, bluesnarfing or bluebugging.

Will security concerns slow Bluetooth's growth?

Rod Friere, 27, a sales representative at the Wireless Warehouse on W. 50th St. and Sixth Ave., said he sells five or six Bluetooth headsets a day.

"Everybody that hears about them wants one," he said.

Nicholas Fletcher, 27, a sales trainer for Tom Hopkins Corporate Sales, is on his third Bluetooth headset.

"It's indispensable," he said. "I've lost two, and I've picked a new one up the same day both times."

Is he worried about hackers and eavesdroppers?

"It's something that we're all used to," Fletcher said. "I think the more people see it, the more they'll want it."

Bluetooth aches

The short-range radio technology called Bluetooth can be vulnerable to hackers. A primer:

1. What is Bluetooth?
A way for electronic devices to communicate wirelessly.

2. How popular is it?
It's quickly becoming the industry standard; many new models of laptop computers, cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) are Bluetooth-equipped.

3. Why is it susceptible to hackers?
Encryption codes assigned by makers of electronic devices are often just four numbers - easy for a hacker to steal. With a code and a special radio device, a hacker can glean valuable information being sent.
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2006-11-09 19:29:37 - It's not often that you get your oldest... Alex Berta
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