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I received a parcel from Amazon which I did not order, addressed to me. It contained Bluetooth earphones. It may just be part of a brushing scam, but it's got me curious.

So my question is.. Could a Bluetooth device be disguised as earphones and actually contain malware?

When attempting to connect my phone it appears as an audio device but prompts me to "Allow access to contacts and call history".

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  • Hi! Yes, headphones can be malicious. But can be not. I think your question has a too broad scope. Please, check this: security.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask. – Alexander Fadeev May 16 '20 at 17:14
  • I thought given the context it was clear? I want to know if a Bluetooth device can appear as an audio device, yet execute malicious code undetected in the background.. (on an android phone for example) – SPM May 16 '20 at 17:27
  • Infecting the device is a bit different question. Change the title to something like "Can malicious Bluetooth "headphones" infect my phone?" then. Because it's not the same as the headphones which read contacts from the device without running the code on the phone. And so on. Either way I would say "yes" on your original question. – Alexander Fadeev May 16 '20 at 17:47
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Yes. I heard of pieces of art with passive antennae in it, and a pair of earphones is just a small computer so that could easily do anything a computer can: run exploits against your Bluetooth/WiFi controller or software, attack WiFi networks in the neighbourhood, indeed grab your contacts or try to initiate file transfers with malware, record with a hidden microphone and send audio via mobile data, GPS tracking... heck, it could record and transmit some low bandwidth data via some Bluetooth side-channel. Theoretically.

Practically, I never heard of such a thing. Which would be exactly why the secret services might do it: nobody suspects anything. But that doesn't mean it's likely. Things like mobile data connections would be measurable and the chips, if you know what to look for, probably identifiable. Attacking WiFi/Bluetooth is definitely visible in packet captures. GPS tracking also requires a data connection such that the attacker can actually receive the data (live, at least; recording is always an option).

Unless you have reason to suspect otherwise, this is probably not a pair of trojan headphones.

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