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Android smartwatches vulnerable to snooping

Bluetooth communications between smartphones and smartwatches running Android are vulnerable to brute-force attacks that can decipher messages sent between the devices into plaintext, claims a prominent security firm.

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(Image: BitDefender)

Bluetooth communications between smartphones and smartwatches running Android are vulnerable to brute-force attacks that can decipher messages sent between the devices into plaintext, claims a prominent security firm.

The claim is made by the BitDefender research team, who has demonstrated how the attack works using a Nexus 4 Android smartphone running the Android L Developer Preview and a Samsung Gear Live smartwatch.

The problem is down to the fact that the obfuscation of the data by Android Wear relies on a six-digit PIN code (after all, there are only 1 million possible combinations), which is quite trivial to brute force. Once this is done, communications between the devices can be read in plaintext.

Over-the-air Bluetooth encryption is handled by the baseband co-processor, built into most Android devices, and previous research has shown that this baseband co-processor is vulnerable to tampering by over-the-air updates.

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