BlueShield: Detecting spoofing attacks in Bluetooth low energy networks


An increasing number of IoT devices are equipped with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to support communication in an energy-efficient manner. Unfortunately, the BLE exhibits a variety of vulnerabilities that enable spoofing attacks in which an attacker can impersonate a benign BLE device and feed malicious data to its users. Defending against spoofing attacks is extremely difficult as security patches to mitigate them may not be adopted across vendors promptly; not to mention the millions of legacy BLE devices with limited I/O capabilities that do not support firmware updates. In this paper, we propose BlueShield, a legacy-friendly, non-intrusive monitoring system as the first line of defense against spoofing attacks. BlueShield is motivated by the observation that all spoofing attacks result in anomalies in certain cyber-physical features of the advertising packets containing the BLE device’s identity. BlueShield leverages a combination of these features to detect anomalous packets generated by an attacker. More importantly, the unique design of BlueShield also makes it robust against an advanced attacker with the capability to mimic all features. BlueShield can be deployed on low-cost off-the-shelf platforms, and does not require any modification in the BLE device or its user. Our evaluation with nine mainstream BLE devices deployed in a real-world office environment validates that BlueShield can effectively detect spoofing attacks at a very low false positive and false negative rate.

International Symposium on Research in Attacks, Intrusions and Defenses (RAID)