Case Study

Lilly always had to giggle whenever she saw the shocked look of the driver sitting in the car next to hers. The ubiquity of Bluetooth-enabled headphones and carkits that brought hands-free calling to the drivers of the world also brought Lilly a new game. Ever since she discovered car-whispering she'd found a new source of amusement that made her start wishing for red traffic lights.

She purposely drove slowly toward the next traffic light and then stopped as it changed to yellow so she could play again. Pressing her phone's button with her thumb, she quickly initiated the Bluetooth scan. She was in luck! The car next to hers was wired with hands-free calling. She quickly selected to bind to the device. She paired using the passkey 1234. It worked. The passkey was usually one of the standard ones; people rarely changed the default passkey. Then she listened. From her car she could hear the conversation between the couple in the car she had paired with. They had no idea.

The light turned green and she had to floor it to stay close to the sports car or she would lose the connection. But when the conversation between the couple became too boring, she decided to scare them instead. She pressed the voice button and let out a spooky scream.

Sarah and Adam had been enjoying each other's company on their commute home after a day of classes when an eerie screech came over their car speakers. They both jumped and Adam swerved. The car slid off the road and then bounced out of the rain gutter and hit a tree.

Lilly giggled as she sped past.

Most of today's computers feature a Bluetooth interface. Enabling it allows keyboards, speakers, and microphones to connect wirelessly to a computer. Such benefits can lead to drawbacks, however. Have you ever thought about someone capturing, from the air, the passwords you just entered on your wireless keyboard? Are you sure that your Bluetooth microphone cannot be used by competitors to eavesdrop on discussions with a coworker through your VoIP software?

Having the Bluetooth interface enabled may also have some undesired side effects: Your computer might be visible to others; for instance, someone might invoke a device query and your computer might announce its Bluetooth friendly name. Since such announcements also contain the device name of your computer, your device might attract unwanted attention.

This chapter mainly focuses on the Bluetooth technology. Over the last few years, this technology has become more and more popular, and today it's the de facto standard for connecting input/output (I/O) devices. However, some devices are still available that do not use Bluetooth. For example, in the area of wireless keyboards and mice, vendors still commonly implement proprietary technologies. Sometimes such devices can also be configured to use Bluetooth.

In general, giving accurate information about such proprietary standards is quite complicated. Since it's vendor specific, research into specific models is needed. Therefore, this chapter only focuses on the common Bluetooth technology. However, because many of the presented attack scenarios may also happen with proprietary technologies, this chapter will also serve as a good starting point for doing research on vendor-specific issues.

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