Similar to the WiFi bug we reported about in July (see post), this Bluetooth bug does not require the user to interact with the hacker, does not require the user to connect to an infected Bluetooth device or anything like that. All it requires is that Bluetooth is turned on in the device.
The good news, if there is any, is that this is not a hardware problem and it is not a protocol problem, it is a software implementation error. A plain old bug. Which means that it can be patched.
Of course, every COOL bug has to have a name; this one is called BlueBorne.
ASSUMING that the manufacturer of your phone is still releasing patches for the model of phone that you have. For example, most Android 4 and earlier users are not getting any patches and many Android 5 users are not getting patches. iPhone 4 users are not going to get patched and this newest version of iOS will be the last patches for the iPhone 5 and 5c.
And, this is not limited to phones.
While Apple has patched this bug in iOS 10 (so most recently purchased iPhone users are good), Microsoft just released a Windows patch in July. This means that Windows users are safe IF they are running on a supported version of Windows and have installed the July patch release. Google says that the September patch release fixes the bug, but that has to wind its way through the manufacturer’s release process and then your carrier’s release process UNLESS you are using a Google Pixel phone, in which case, you should already have the patch. Linux teams are working on a patch, but that has not been released yet.
The bigger issue is all of those Internet of Things appliances from light bulbs to TVs that will likely NEVER be patched and will, therefore, always be an opportunity for a hacker.
Of course, as with all Bluetooth connections, the attacker has to be within 30-100 feet or so, depending on the equipment that the hacker is using. That makes Starbucks a perfect place to launch an attack on unsuspecting users.
For those of you who do not have the patch yet, such as users using obsolete Android phones, and Linux based IoT devices, the only possible defense is to disable Bluetooth. That may not be what you want to hear, but that will protect your device.
Information for this post came from Wired.