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Researchers warn millions of peripherals at risk from UPnP flaw

29 Jan 2013
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Security researchers have advised administrators to turn off the Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) protocol after the peripheral connection platform was found to contain multiple vulnerabilities.

Commonly used for networking and peripherals, UPnP is used to connect peripheral devices and network-attached storage devices. According to research firm Rapid7, however, basic flaws in UPnP are leaving as many as 80 million devices open to exploit.

Rapid 7 advised administrators to disable UPnP on all devices if possible to limit the exposure of vulnerable systems.

Though the vulnerable devices would need to be individually targeted and exploited, researchers have found that the use of ubiquitous SDKs leaves millions of devices with the same vulnerable components.

Rapid7 chief security officer HD Moore told V3 that should an attacker wish to attack a network, the process of discovering and crafting an exploit could be done in a matter of hours.

"The scary thing about how this protocol is built is that these devices are designed to be discovered," Moore said.

"You can basically scan the entire internet for every UPnP device."

Further complicating matters is what looks to be a long and tedious patching process. Moore said that in order to properly remedy the vulnerabilities, each individual hardware model will have to be patched.

In the meantime, tens of millions of devices could be left vulnerable to attack.

"This is a lot different from your standard vulnerability," Moore said.

"This is an issue that were going to see for the next six to 10 years, this is going to be around for a long time."

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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