1. Introduction

In this tutorial, we’ll study the main differences between two cyberattacks related to Bluetooth connections: Bluejacking and Bluesnarfing.

First, we’ll look at an overview of the Bluetooth technology. Next, we’ll examine how these attacks work. Finally, we’ll directly compare the two attacks.

2. An Overview of Bluetooth

Bluetooth is a technology that allows direct wireless connection between electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Thus, we can easily transfer data between such devices, including videos, photos, music, and more, using Bluetooth connections.

This technology is also very useful for sending messages (or commands) from one device to another. Therefore, we can use Bluetooth to connect peripheral devices such as a mouse, headphones, and speakers.

An important property of Bluetooth is that it only allows short-distance connections. Thus, most devices support Bluetooth connections at up to 33 feet (10 meters).

However, the range of Bluetooth communication can vary depending on various factors. It includes the Bluetooth version, the number and efficiency of communication channels, the level of antenna gain, and how much the environment degrades the signal.

3. Bluejacking Attack

Bluejacking is a cyberattack in which some malicious actor exploits vulnerabilities in Bluetooth-enabled devices to send unsolicited data. It includes sending unsolicited messages, photos, videos, contact cards, etc.

To perform Bluejacking, the attacker first scans for nearby devices with Bluetooth turned on. Next, the attacker tries to establish a Bluetooth connection with some potential victim’s device. Once connected, the attacker starts sending data to the victim’s device. The figure below illustrates this attack:

Bluecjacking explained

Bluejacking attacks can be performed to achieve different goals. However, in most cases, attackers perform Bluejacking to prank people or send advertisements. Therefore, Bluejacking attacks usually result in confusion, surprise, and inconvenience for the victims.

4. Bluesnarfing Attack

Bluesnarfing is an attack that results in data being stolen via Bluetooth connections. In this case, the attacker manipulates the Bluetooth connection to steal content such as contacts, passwords, and digital media in general.

The process of Bluesnarfing is very similar to Bluejacking. When Bluesnarfing, the attacker scans for Bluetooth-enabled devices nearby and tries to establish a Bluetooth connection with some vulnerable device. However, once the attacker gains access to the victim’s device, they start stealing data. This attack is illustrated in the figure below:

Bluesnarfing explained

Overall, there are many different purposes for attackers to perform Bluesnarfing. Additionally, personal identity cloning is one of the most common motivations. Also, Bluesnarfing can be performed to obtain data for blackmail and other purposes. As a result, Bluesnarfing attacks often lead to the leakage and possible exposure of the victim’s personal information.

5. Comparison

At this point, we have a broad idea of how Bluejacking and Bluesnarfing work. Now, let’s systematically compare these two types of cyberattacks.

Bluejacking and Bluesnarfing are similar in the sense that both cyberattacks are based on Bluetooth connections. This implies that, in both cases, the attacker needs to keep a short distance from the victim’s device.

Such attacks differ mainly in their purposes. Thus, while Bluesnarfing is intended to steal data, Bluejacking is only aimed at sending unsolicited messages to the victim’s device.

Another important difference is in terms of the severity of the attacks. In this regard, Bluesnarfing is considered a very critical attack, as the attacker can obtain the victim’s sensitive data. On the other hand, Bluejacking is generally considered to be a less severe cyberattack and, therefore, of lower priority.

These attacks also differ in terms of their difficulty in detection. So, while bluejacking is immediately evident (as the victim sees the messages), Bluesnarfing attacks usually occur without any apparent signs. Therefore, Bluesnarfing attacks are more challenging to detect than Bluejacking attacks.

Despite the differences between these two attacks, the prevention methods are the same for both. Thus, the best way to prevent both Bluejacking and Bluesnarfing attacks is to avoid keeping our devices with Bluetooth enabled when not required (especially in crowded areas). In addition, we should only accept pairing requests from known devices.

To finish, the table below summarizes the main similarities and differences between Bluejacking and Bluesnarfing attacks.

Aspect Bluejacking Bluesnarfing
Medium Bluetooth Bluetooth
Purpose Prank or send advertisements. Steal data from people.
Severity Low High
Detection Easy to detect. Difficult to detect.
Impact Confusion, surprise, and inconvenience for users (victims). Leaking and possible exposure of the victim’s personal information.
Main Prevention Method Disable Bluetooth when not required (especially in crowded areas). Disable Bluetooth when not required (especially in crowded areas).

6. Conclusion

In this article, we studied the differences between the Bluejacking and Bluesnarfing attacks. As we’ve learned, in Bluesnarfing, the attacker steals data from the victim, and in a Bluejacking attack, the victim only receives unsolicited messages. For this reason, Bluejacking is a less critical attack than Bluesnarfing.

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