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Smart telly, router, app makers have left a security hole open for – drum-roll – three years

Bodes well for the Internet of Things

A security hole that has been known and patched for the last three years remains vulnerable in over 6.1 million connected devices.

This according to Trend Micro, who says its researchers have discovered that a collection of remote code execution vulnerabilities in a software library used by mobile devices, smart TVs, and routers to stream media files has gone unpatched.

The buffer overflows lie in the libupnp, or Portable SDK for UPnP. The library is commonly used by devices to stream media files over a network. First patched in 2012, the flaws potentially allow an attacker to take control over the targeted device.

"These vulnerabilities were actually fixed in December 2012, however, many apps still use the older, vulnerable version of the SDK," wrote Trend Micro mobile analyst Veo Zhang.

"We found 547 apps that used older versions of libupnp, 326 of which are available on the Google Play store."

Zhang notes that in order for the vulnerability to be exploited, the vulnerable library must be accessible remotely, and in some cases vendors can use mitigation techniques such as ASLR or DEP to prevent an exploit.

Still, Zhang estimates that at least 20 of the apps Trend found could be subjected to the exploits. As many as 6.1 million devices were vulnerable to apps such as Tencent QQMusic and LinPhone (both of which have since been patched).

The findings underscore what is likely to be a growing problem with IoT devices. As more devices are connected to networks and integrated with internet protocol, hardware and appliance manufacturers who have not traditionally had experience in application development will be tasked with creating and maintaining secure software stacks, leaving the possibility for widespread exposure of major security vulnerabilities. ®

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