Kaspersky researchers discovered a severe vulnerability in the implementations of the Bluetooth protocol across several popular operating systems: Android, macOS, iOS, iPadOS, and Linux.
This bug potentially allows remote hacking of vulnerable devices without any particular actions required on the part the user. Let’s dive into the details.
As per reserachers the Bluetooth vulnerability allows you to connect a fake keyboard
The essence of the problem is that a vulnerable device can be forced to connect to a fake Bluetooth keyboard without requiring user confirmation — bypassing the operating system’s checks responsible for the Bluetooth protocol.
The attackers can then use this connection to input commands, allowing them to execute any action as if they were the user — without requiring additional authentication such as a password or biometrics (like a fingerprint or face scan). According to the security researcher Marc Newlin who discovered this vulnerability, no special equipment is needed for a successful attack — just a Linux laptop and a standard Bluetooth adapter.
Which devices and operating systems are vulnerable?
This vulnerability affects a range of operating systems and several classes of devices based on them — albeit with some variations. Depending on the OS used, devices may be more or less vulnerable.
Android devices were the most thoroughly examined for the presence of the aforementioned vulnerability. Marc Newlin tested seven smartphones with different OS versions like Android 4.2.2, Android 6.0.1, Android 10, Android 11, Android 13, and Android 14. All of them were vulnerable to the Bluetooth hack.
The researcher informed Google of the discovered vulnerability in early August. The company has already released patches for Android versions 11 through 14, and sent them to manufacturers of smartphones and tablets based on this OS.
These manufacturers now have the task of creating and distributing the necessary security updates to their customers’ devices.
Installing patches as soon as they become available for devices running on Android 11/12/13/14. Until then, to protect against hacking, it’s advisable to keep Bluetooth turned off.
For devices running older Android versions, there’ll be no updates — they’ll remain vulnerable to this attack indefinitely. Thus, the advice to turn Bluetooth off will remain relevant for them until the end of their service life.
MacOS, iPadOS, and iOS
As for Apple’s operating systems, the researcher didn’t have such a wide range of test devices. Nonetheless, he was able to confirm that the vulnerability is present in iOS 16.6, as well as in two versions of macOS — Monterey 12.6.7 (x86) and Ventura 13.3.3 (ARM). It’s safe to assume that in fact a wider range of macOS and iOS versions — as well as related systems like iPadOS, tvOS, and watchOS — are vulnerable to the Bluetooth attack.
(Image courtesy: www.tech.co)