Bluetooth Security Still Wobbly

Bluetooth cracking tool can hit cellphones, not to mention headsets, handheld computers, cars, PCs, and networks

Security consultants Thierry Zoller and Kevin Finistere recently demonstrated a new Windows-based hacking tool called BTCrack that they say can break Bluetooth wireless security measures almost in real-time.

The pair demoed the new tool at the HackLu2006 conference in October, a European event that combines security, ethics and computer science. The friendly title to their presentation was "All Your Bluetooth Is Belong To Us."

The pair didn't limit their presentation to a single cracking tool, however, but suggested -- as others have before them -- that the short-range wireless technology installed in millions of cellphones around the world continues to face a myriad of security threats.

In fact, the consultants commenced their slide-show with a suggestion to viewers: "Bluetooh [sic] - Please Just Turn It Off."

The BTCrack tool allows potential hackers to sniff out a user's Bluetooth PIN -- the number that allows a bond to be created between two devices -- and the 128-bit secret "link key" that they then store and use to encrypt all further communication. This could leave potentially valuable user data open to hackers.

The pair's presentation didn't stop there, however; they also list a multitude of attacks on phones, headsets, handheld computers, cars, and even PCs and networks. "Your internal networks are at risk," they conclude and suggest turning off Bluetooth links whenever they are not required.

The problem with that idea, however, is that many users are unaware that they are broadcasting Bluetooth signals. In fact, they may not even be aware that their device has a Bluetooth radio onboard. (See The Blue Flu?.)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung