Serious flaws discovered in Bluetooth technology used in mobile phones can let an attacker remotely download contact information from victims' address books, read their calendar appointments or peruse text messages on their phones to conduct corporate espionage.
An attacker could even plant phony text messages in a phone's memory, or turn the phone sitting in a victim's pocket or on a restaurant table top into a listening device to pick up private conversations in the phone's vicinity. Most types of attacks could be conducted without leaving a trace.
Security professionals Adam Laurie and Martin Herfurt demonstrated the attacks last week at the Black Hat and DefCon security and hacker conferences in Las Vegas. Phone companies say the risk of this kind of attack is small, since the amount of time a victim would be vulnerable is minimal, and the attacker would have to be in proximity to the victim. But experiments, one using a common laptop and another using a prototype Bluetooth "rifle" that captured data from a mobile phone a mile away, have demonstrated that such attacks aren't so far-fetched.
Laurie, chief security officer of London-based security and networking firm ALD, discovered the vulnerability last November. Using a program called Bluesnarf that he designed but hasn't released, Laurie modified the Bluetooth settings on a standard Bluetooth-enabled laptop to conduct the data-collection attacks.
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News source: Wired News