What is Bluesnarfing? (And How to Prevent It!)

bluesnarfing and network security

Did you know that only 14% of SMBs are prepared to respond to a cyberattack? This is problematic because cybercrime is such a fast-growing issue. In fact, it’s set to cost businesses around the world around $5.2 trillion over the next 5 years.

Bluesnarfing is one of the most serious threats that businesses face moving into 2022. As we connect more and more mobile and network devices to Bluetooth, hackers have ready access to data via these communication devices.

Read on to learn the ins and outs of bluesnarfing and how you can prevent it.

What Is Bluesnarfing?

In the most basic terms, bluesnarfing is a type of cyberattack that targets Bluetooth users. Hackers use Bluetooth technologies as a means to access the main device that they are connected to. These devices include smartphones, computers, and tablets.

In 2021, 4.5 billion people around the world use some form of Bluetooth device. Some of these devices are platform devices such as phones and laptops. Others are peripheral devices such as earbuds, sensors, and smart home applications.

With demand for peripheral devices growing, bluejacking will likely be more of an issue than ever before. People don’t usually think to secure wearables that they view as extensions of other devices. Unfortunately, this could leave both personal and business devices vulnerable to a breach.

Hackers find phones and computers that have Bluetooth enabled at the time of the attack. Enabling Bluetooth makes devices “discoverable” so nearby systems can link to them. When used correctly, this is a great tool for users.

However, hackers exploit these vulnerabilities and target the object exchange (OBEX) protocol of the system. This OBEX protocol serves the purpose of exchanging data between devices. When the hacker slips into it, they can pair their mobile device with the victim’s and steal information instantly.

Is This Different From Bluejacking?

When looking into bluesnarfing, you may have noticed a related term: bluejacking. Many people use these words interchangeably, but they actually are very different.

While bluesnarfing is illegal information theft, bluejacking is simply sending unauthorized messages to a Bluetooth device. These signals themselves steal no information.

However, bluejacking is a core part of most bluesnarfing strategies. The unauthorized bluejacking messages can find vulnerabilities in the OBEX protocol of Bluetooth devices and those linked to them. They also can give hackers a foot in the door to access your network.

Bluesnarfing and Data Theft

As you can imagine, bluesnarfing can cause individuals a lot of problems. Most people keep personal notes, banking information, financial data, and sensitive personal information on these devices. Hackers have the means to take this information for their own use or to sell it to third parties.

Unfortunately, bluesnarfing also has severe impacts on business IT services and security. Many computers and similar devices within a workplace are paired to Bluetooth, making them just as susceptible to bluesnarfing as personal mobile devices are.

25% of Americans are also working remotely as of 2021. These people have paired their personal devices with the business network to access information from their homes, coffee shops, and libraries. This does not even account for the people who usually work in an office but also monitor the workplace from their homes during off-hours.

This is relevant because all of these devices – whether they’re in the workplace or remote – are paired to your business network. If hackers pull off bluesnarfing on any one of these devices, they will gain open access to all other devices on the network. They can steal company data from all related devices.

The Impacts of Bluesnarfing

At this point, you may be wondering what information is in danger in a bluesnarfing attack. Unfortunately, the answer to this question is all of the information not just on the Bluetooth-connected device but all of the information on the network.

The average data breach costs a company about $3.86 million. As a business with 20-500 employees, this cost could potentially drive you into the ground. It’s critical that you take active measures to prevent information theft within your network.

Some of the information that is stolen will also leave you susceptible to lawsuits. Businesses tend to store sensitive employee information on their networks in addition to business data. If employee financial or identity-related information is stolen, they have grounds to sue.

The same applies to clients whose information is saved to your network. In addition to potential lawsuits, your company’s reputation will be damaged if you lose customer data.

Bluesnarfing, like many types of data breaches, is cyclical. If a hacker knows how to penetrate your devices via Bluetooth, they open more vulnerabilities within your network. It becomes less secure overall and more hackers can come and steal additional information.

How Can You Prevent Bluesnarfing Threats?

Fortunately, bluesnarfing is just as preventable as it is impactful.

The first way that you can prevent bluesnarfing is simply to monitor your technology.

For example, a managed service provider in Los Angeles can monitor trends in both individual devices and networks. That is, if you don’t have in-house IT support. These trends showcase the normal functions of your network and let the IT department know how it should be operating.

When there are any blips in these trends, outsourced IT support companies  will be notified. They can then root out the source of the problem and figure out whether someone is trying to penetrate your network via a Bluetooth device. This will let them troubleshoot the issue as it is taking place utilizing 24/7 surveillance.

However, it is best to take preventative measures so disaster troubleshooting is rendered largely unnecessary. There are steps that you can take to ensure safety. However, a cybersecurity professional will need to assist you with many of them.

Disabling “Discoverable” Connections

One of the simplest things that you can do to prevent bluesnarfing is to secure your Bluetooth devices. These devices generally default to being discoverable. This makes sense- after all, the whole point of a Bluetooth system is to engage devices to work together.

However, you aren’t going to be utilizing your Bluetooth system 24/7. This is especially true of those who use platform devices with Bluetooth capabilities. You don’t need your Bluetooth connected to a network when you’re just surfing the web or typing in a word document on a laptop with Bluetooth capabilities.

Turn off your Bluetooth and stop it from being “discoverable.” You can do this by going to your device settings, hitting the Bluetooth button, and tapping the indicator beside “Bluetooth.” This will turn the Bluetooth off.

Once that’s done, go to the indicator beside the space that says “open detection.’ Uncheck that box and your Bluetooth will no longer be visible. This way you don’t need to worry too much about bluesnarfing until the next time you need to connect the Bluetooth.

Minimizing Bluetooth-Linked Devices

Americans own an average of 4.4 Bluetooth devices each.

In a workplace with 20-500 people, this means you’ll have anywhere between 88 and 2,200 Bluetooth devices. This doesn’t even count those that exist around the workplace independently of private ownership.

You do not need all of these devices to be Bluetooth-enabled at once. Make sure that you minimize those connected to your network. This provides hackers with fewer openings at which they can enter into your system.

It’s difficult to monitor and regulate Bluetooth connections in a business setting. However, you can block all devices except for certain ones from connecting to another device. This lets you ensure that you don’t have unnecessary Bluetooth connections that open up network vulnerabilities.

Having a Solid Authentication System

Two-factor authentication can protect your network by adding an additional layer of protection to preexisting security systems. Hackers are becoming more creative at finding ways to penetrate your network via Bluetooth devices. You need to secure all accounts with an additional security layer.

By securing devices with multi-factor authentication, you stop cybercriminals from being able to enter into the device. Even if they manage to hijack the Bluetooth, they will struggle to enter into the device and steal information.

Using two-factor authentication on your network will secure the rest of the devices on that network. Even if a hacker were to bypass the security features on a device, they would need to do so again to get onto your network. This adds multiple layers of security to safeguard your data.

The point is to ensure that users are who they say they are when trying to get onto a network. These strategies are easy to implement when you talk with your outsourced IT provider openly. You won’t need to invest in expensive new hardware, software, or employees to get this safety net.

Installing Network Security Software

Multi-factor authentication is part of network security, but it’s by far the only thing that you need to do to secure your system. You need to get a professional IT service that protect everything.

Network security systems secure all individual servers as well as devices. Bluetooth, as something that connects to the internet, is something that a network security provider can stay on top of. Unfortunately, this can be a challenge for businesses that have many employees who each have multiple devices.

Luckily, getting the right network security software is simple and streamlined with the right provider. Be Structured works with other security providers to give you and your employees the expert-level IT support that you need.

Working with us will get you firewall, antimalware, and antivirus technologies all in one go. You also will have access control features that you can use to stop unauthorized users from connecting to your system. The bottom line is that you preemptively stop potential bluesnarfing before any problem even presents itself.

Protecting Yourself With Antimalware Platforms

If you’re looking to protect your network, you’ll need to install antiviral and antimalware technologies on all Bluetooth-enabled and Bluetooth-compatible devices. These solutions are specially made to stop threats from entering into your network. However, they also are designed to ensure that your network loads quickly and operates at its peak performance levels.

This ultimately ensures that you don’t lose time and money as a result of network downtime. You also will save yourself a lot of strife since dealing with potential malware is far less likely. This will let you feel comfortable connecting your Bluetooth to other devices without worrying about the consequences of a device hack.

Communicating With Managed IT Providers

There are several advantages to getting managed IT services. One of the best is constant customer support and communication that helps to secure your network.

You likely don’t have access to network monitoring knowledge or tools to troubleshoot problems in-house. That’s okay- we’ll alert you when there’s something to be concerned about. If you’re worried for other reasons that we have not yet identified, we also are happy to discuss your individual inquiries.

This can prevent bluesnarfing by removing stress from you and your team. You will be able to focus on training your employees on how to keep safe from threats while in the workplace. This means stronger network security on both internal and external levels.

Secure Your Business With IT Support

While bluesnarfing is a serious and fairly recent risk, there are ways that you can minimize the likelihood of being targeted. Investing in an experienced and reputable managed IT service can help you to remain safe. Now that you know all about bluejacking and how to prevent it, it’s time to secure your data.

We’re committed to ensuring that your business remains secure and protected against cyber threats of all types. Schedule a consultation with our IT experts to discuss your individual support needs and how we can fulfill them.