4

Can a wireless (bluetooth) headphone store data? Also, if it can, then can someone put malware in it? I assume that the device must necessarily be able to store some sort of data, since it has buttons for skip and pause songs and buttons to change the volume. So it must contain some software to do this built inside it.

Is there anyway to check (if it's really possible that it can contain malware) if it's infected or not?

Thank you.

8

Yes, but very unlikely.

A bluetooth headset has a microcontroller, EEPROM with firmware, audio circuitry and bluetooth chip (which is itself a microcontroller with its own, distinct firmware implementing the bluetooth stack); I'm pretty sure there are manufacturers that combine all of these elements on a single physical chip.

If you can find a vulnerability in the microcontroller's firmware and make it execute arbitrary code, you can write to its memory and overwrite its firmware with your own malicious version.

From the point of view of a malicious attacker, that would need to either compromise the device that's currently connected to the headset in order to compromise the headset later on, or to get physical access to the headset to tamper with it (via bluetooth by forcing it to connect to an attacker-controlled device that will exploit the headset, or directly via USB if the headset has such a port and its data pins are actually connected to the microcontroller).

The big question is, what does that give you ?

There isn't enough memory on the device to record calls for later retrieval (and that retrieval would also need physical access to the device later), so that idea is toast.

There isn't an easy way of streaming call audio to a different device, it may be possible if you manage to reimplement the bluetooth stack with some custom version that allows communicating with two devices simultaneously, the phone and your other device that will receive the data; plus you'll need to be relatively close to the device to communicate with it, especially since these headsets don't have a very powerful antenna.

The only way to compromise a computer or phone would be to know a vulnerability in that computer's bluetooth stack allowing arbitrary code execution, and then make your headset exploiting that vulnerability when connecting to the computer/phone.

In my opinion, all these attacks require some kind of physical access, and if we have physical access we can pull them off way easier by compromising the targeted machines directly (malware or just hardware keyloggers/microphones/other dark side spy device) rather than wasting our time with the headset.

  • How do you know the amount of memory a device has? And yes, it always has a backdoor built in. – ott-- Feb 22 '15 at 21:56
  • Why the downvote ? @ott-- common sense. The device doesn't need more than a few megabytes of memory to store its firmware, so why would the manufacturer waste money on putting more. And what backdoor are you talking about ? – user42178 Feb 22 '15 at 22:49
1

As far as I can see that it is impossible for malware (e.g. virus, spyware,etc) infects data in phone cell even to store it through a wireless system. This is two different cases; hardware and software.

Based on my usage, no data transferred into a phone cell but byte of transfer recording (voice)through wireless headphone. When the data voice is being transferred, there will be only assembling codes which access the voice central circuit and change it into voice. I can say that the software aims to process from electric to voice (0 and 1 data). It's far different when data transferred contains of non-assembling codes, say, android app, etc.

This issue will be true when the manufacturer builds the spyware system inside the circuit. However, I never heard one's phone infected by it.

1

You don't exactly need to store anything in the headset, there are plenty of "older" Bluetooth exploits. Assuming that there is a exploit in the Bluetooth hose ( aka the phone ) it could be possible to modify the headsets firmware to exploit it lets say "post pairing" remote code execution. From there it would be possible to download a second stage payload from another source ( this form of 2 stage exploitation ) is common in hardware hacking. This allows you to bypass any limits on size of the initial exploit ( for example on the Nintendo 3ds the current method of launching third party software has a first stage of scanning a specially crafted qr code )

So in order to exploit this all it would take would be the ability to reprogram the headset ( which would require physical access for a few minutes depending on its design maybe even having to physically open it to attach a programming cable )

As for detection if one is compromised, it is possible but extremely inpractical ( it would be easier to organise one that requires internal access to reprogram and simply making it tamper evident ) and of course that would only work if assuming that there are no "wireless" exploits of the headset itself

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.