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OPLIN 4Cast #780: Wired earbuds are inherently more secure

Posted in Bluetooth

A puff piece in Politico this week poked fun at Vice President Kamala Harris’s use of wired earbuds and her preference for texting over e-mail, calling her “Bluetooth-phobic” and paranoid. “Should someone who travels with the nuclear football be spending time untangling her headphone wires?,” they ask. Given that there are 495 publicly disclosed vulnerabilities in Bluetooth, I’d say it’s not paranoia if someone is really spying on you.

  • The vice president should not be using Bluetooth headphones [The Verge] “With Bluetooth switched on, a phone, laptop or other smart device is constantly broadcasting a signal that can be detected by other devices in range — which provides an unnecessary vector for attack that can easily be eliminated by simply keeping Bluetooth off.
  • Kamala Harris is on to something: AirPods are bad [The Guardian] “Bluetooth technology has been around since the late 1980s, and while its security has improved over the years, it remains vulnerable to “man in the middle attacks”: an attacker could intercept and decrypt the signal between the phone and the Bluetooth device, allowing them to listen in to whatever audio is being transmitted.”
  • Is Bluetooth Really a Security Risk? Why Kamala Harris Insists on Wired Headphones [Newsweek] “It is true that, for most people, Bluetooth security needn’t be a massive concern, but it does make sense for somebody in Harris’ position to be extra vigilant. In fact, a cyber security sheet from the National Security Agency (NSA) warns that malicious actors can indeed compromise wireless technologies like Bluetooth and Near Field Communications.”
  • Kamala Harris Is Right: Bluetooth Is a Security Risk [Motherboard] “If you are not the Vice President of the United States, it’s absolutely OK to use Bluetooth headphones. It all depends on your threat model, which is cybersecurity speak for assessing your personal risks and how likely you are to get hacked or surveilled.”

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