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Attacking Bluetooth channels in consumer and healthcare wearable devices

  • 13:20
  • Tue
  • 14 Nov
Briefing Stage 3


Wearable devices are becoming prevalent in healthcare and consumer environments. Small, yet powerful, these digital and connected devices offer a rich set of experiences — ranging from necessities such as medicine delivery and patient monitoring, to luxuries such as fashion accessories.

As products that live and operate in the vicinity (or even inside) a human body, wearables access, process, store and transmit a wealth of personal, personally identifiable and medical information belonging to their users. Unless designed with security and privacy in mind, they can severely impact users, directly affect brand reputation and attract heavy penalties.

In our presentation, we talk about attacks against healthcare and consumer wearable devices, with emphasis on Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), which are the wireless protocols of choice for such products. We discuss the security threats for each of the building blocks (device, mobile apps and cloud), as well as for the end-to-end ecosystem, and how a flaw in single component can have a butterfly effect and cripple the entire ecosystem. Wearables rely on apps installed on your smartphones. We discuss how new vulnerabilities can surface when we have these wearables working with mobile devices.

Our presentation includes live demonstrations of exploits and code walkthroughs. Using market-available tools, we show how scarily easy it is to break BLE encryption and extract the encryption key using open source software solutions.

We conclude with a discussion on defensive measures and security best practices that device manufacturers can adopt to protect against such practical attacks.