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September 9, 2021updated 07 Dec 2021 11:22am

Bluetooth vulnerabilities raise red flags about connected device security

By GlobalData Technology

New Research shows that potentially more than one billion Bluetooth connected devices might be susceptible to hacking because of a flaw in chipsets from 11 vendors.

Security researchers from Singapore University of Technology and Design cast a spotlight on vulnerabilities in 13 different Bluetooth chipsets that could put mobile and other connected devices at risk of breaches.

Dubbed BrakTooth, with Brak being a Norwegian word for crash, the 16 identified vulnerabilities in the Bluetooth Classic stack can be exploited using a number of mechanisms including denial of service, firmware crashes, deadlocks and arbitrary code execution (ACE). A wide range of devices from Dell laptops to consumer smart speakers and connected refrigerators could be vulnerable.

Common Bluetooth vulnerability exposures

In a paper published on BrakTooth, researchers said at least 1400 different products possess the vulnerabilities. At the date of publication, researchers noted 20 common vulnerability exposures (CVEs) have been verified. Four vulnerabilities are still waiting for confirmation from Intel and Qualcomm.

Most of the vendors are still working on firmware patches to address the vulnerabilities. The University-affiliated research team is offering a BrakTooth proof-of-concept code to confirm the respective vendor’s stack is secure.

Industry watchers have long expressed concerns that security is more of an after thought that an integral element with respect to connected devices. A report published in August by Order, a security vendor for connected devices noted that 42% of deployed systems are agentless or un-agentable.

The study sounded the alarm that many underprotected consumer devices including Pelotons, Sonos speakers, gaming consoles and even Teslas are often connected to the corporate network making them an easy entry point for hackers. In the report, ORDR said 46% of all connected devices are vulnerable to a medium or high impact attack.

Many of the connected device security issues are glaring evidence about how overlooked basic protections are. Elements like out of date operating systems for medical devices or the high percentage (55%) of devices still connected to the network without an active user, underscore the need for vendors and their clients alike to take a hard look at not just what embedded security connected device have but how they are deploying and managing them in production.