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Bluetooth Pairing Method Confusion on Chrome OS

Bluetooth Pairing Method Confusion on Chrome OS


Vulnerability Impact

Method Confusion is a vulnerability in the Bluetooth (BT) specification, which allows an attacker to sit in the middle of a pairing operation between BT accessory and host. Once pairing is complete, all data could be intercepted and/or modified in transit by the attacker. For example, if Method Confusion is used while pairing a BT keyboard, an attacker can read all of a user’s keystrokes (including passwords and other sensitive information that is entered via the keyboard) or inject keystrokes on the user’s behalf.

Vulnerability Description

BT hosts and accessories use a variety of authentication mechanisms during pairing. The host and accessory do not mutually authenticate that they used the same method. In particular, the specifics of the Numeric Comparison (NC), and the Passkey Entry (PE) authentication mechanisms, mean that an attacker with physical proximity can use their device to insert themselves into the connection. By exploiting NC with the first target device, the attacker could leverage PE authentication with the other target device to use the confirmation number as the passkey.

Chrome OS Response

Chrome OS is exploring user interface changes to help a user discern if the pairing process is secure as a short term mitigation strategy. Longer term, Chrome OS is discussing specification changes and technical fixes with the BT community. Users who are especially concerned about this should not pair new devices in public settings, where an adversary could be seated within close proximity.

Affected Devices

All Chrome OS devices and versions are impacted.