This new major flaw lets you spy on your location

Bluetooth is a very popular technology in almost all wireless electronic devices. But what enabled the technology to become so widely adopted was the development of a type known as Bluetooth LE.

Traditional Bluetooth technology actually consumes a lot of battery. Bluetooth LE technology consumes only 1% of the energy consumed by traditional Bluetooth modules, while still allowing for a permanent connection – albeit with less bandwidth.

All Bluetooth LE devices can be “profiled” to track their location

This type of connectivity is suitable for keyboards and mice as well as other peripherals such as wireless headsets. However, researchers at the University of California San Diego have found an embarrassing security flaw because it allows users to be tracked without even “breaking” the protocol.

The researchers wondered whether the behavior of these devices could be tweaked to create a kind of digital fingerprint, which is possible to track in given locations without users’ knowledge. And, alas, this is exactly the situation.

To arrive at their discovery, the researchers analyzed the Bluetooth LE radio signals of several devices in an attempt to determine the characteristics and behaviors that could help tell the difference between these devices.

And their conclusion is clear: all devices equipped with Bluetooth LE technology emit radio signals with unique characteristics. Each device can thus be profiled through Bluetooth LE radio variations that relate to subtle differences in component tolerances, chip models, and antennas.

On the strength of this constant, researchers have developed a method to track the location of multiple users under laboratory conditions. And their result is quite worrying. Thanks to this fingerprinting technology, the researchers were able to track the devices with an accuracy of 95%.

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Tracking the Pixel 5 also provides 100% reliability. For now, the researchers do not believe that this security flaw has been actively exploited in nature. Its operation is actually supposed to be free from many constraints. For example, among signal flaws that allow detection, other untimely flaws complicate detection.

Their profile may change depending on the ambient temperature, the researchers said. It allows tracking only in places where the climate is stable. However, hackers can now rely solely on this discovery to create new, even more sophisticated Bluetooth-based tracking technologies.

Also read – BlueBorne: Bluetooth is a minefield of flaws for hackers

Unfortunately, this flaw is unlikely to ever be corrected, except in future versions of the protocol on newer devices. As a result, the best practice to adopt is to always turn off the Bluetooth connection as soon as you’re not using it, to reduce the risk of nothing happening.

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About the Author: Tad Fisher

Prone to fits of apathy. Music specialist. Extreme food enthusiast. Amateur problem solver.

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