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BLEWhisperer: Exploiting BLE Advertisements for Data Exfiltration

by   Ankit Gangwal, et al.
Shandong University
IIIT Hyderabad

Bluetooth technology has enabled short-range wireless communication for billions of devices. Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) variant aims at improving power consumption on battery-constrained devices. BLE-enabled devices broadcast information (e.g., as beacons) to nearby devices via advertisements. Unfortunately, such functionality can become a double-edged sword at the hands of attackers. In this paper, we primarily show how an attacker can exploit BLE advertisements to exfiltrate information from BLE-enable devices. In particular, our attack establishes a communication medium between two devices without requiring any prior authentication or pairing. We develop a proof-of-concept attack framework on the Android ecosystem and assess its performance via a thorough set of experiments. Our results indicate that such an exfiltration attack is indeed possible though with a low data rate. Nevertheless, we also demonstrate potential use cases and enhancements to our attack that can further its severeness. Finally, we discuss possible countermeasures to prevent such an attack.


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