What is UPnP – How It Leaves You Vulnerable
By Christine Margret 4 minutes
UPnP exposes your network to the attackers. It turns out to be the security threat and leaves the doors open for malicious activities. What is UPnP and how it causes security problems to your home network? This blog is here to explain all that so be sure to read through the end.
What is UPnP?
UPnP stands for “Universal Plug and Play.” It’s a protocol that sets you free from manual network configuration and enables you to connect devices to your network.
With enabled UPnP, devices directly forward a port on your router and save you from manually forwarding ports.
A good example of the UPnP is a newly brought printer that automatically connects to your phone, tablet, and PC.
The Universal Plug and Play brings convenience to your home automation devices. It makes it easier for the devices to discover and connect to each other across the network.
What UPnP Used for And How it Works?
UPnP is a multipurpose feature that can be used for game streaming, remote home surveillance, content streaming via media server, video streaming, and home automation devices.
UPnP is more than convenient for a user’s perspective. See how it works; for example, you bring a new device to home. Now, you connect the new device to the network, and all other devices will automatically communicate with the newly connected device.
All the technical work is processing behind. If we take a closer look, then we can determine the process into the following steps:
- Device connected to the network
- Device found an IP address
- The device is appearing under the network using a specific name
- The new device is now linking and communicating with all other devices on the network.
How UPnP is a security threat?
UPnP doesn’t require any authentication, and that’s a major security flaw. When a router receives a permission request, it quickly opens the door for the device trying to connect. The router assumes that the device asking to connect is trusted and coming from the local network.
Therefore, the router never asks questions and allows access to which cyber-attackers leverage.
Hackers can find your router on a wider network then impersonate as a device like Xbox and send a UPnP request to the router. The router will quickly open port without authentication.
Thus, the hacker will access your network and control all the connected devices remotely. The problem doesn’t end here. The hacker can steal all your sensitive information by installing malware on your connected devices.
That’s not all! A hacker can use your router for criminal activities, including phishing attacks, and stealing credit card information. This can be done when a hacker uses your router as a proxy that makes the illegal activities seem to be coming from you rather than the hacker.
The Best Solutions to UPnP Vulnerability
There are three possible solutions to avoid UPnP vulnerability. First is simply turn off UPnP from your router’s settings. When you disable UPnP, your router will no longer respond to any incoming connection requests.
Bear in mind that turning off UPnP blocks all the incoming requests. It doesn’t even allow you to watch your security camera live video stream or access your home computer remotely.
If you need to connect a few important devices, then you can use the second solution. Enable remote access for specific devices from your router’s manual configuration.
To do this, use the port forwarding process to select local devices along with the IP address and ports that are supposed to be used, e.g., TCP/IP or UDP port.
One downside of this approach is that the router will only accept requests coming from the selected devices. Every time you must change router configuration settings to connect a new device. The process will be quite complicated for the users to change configuration each time when a new device connection is needed.
Luckily, there’s another way to access your network without compromising security remotely. Consider setting up a VPN on a router to get the network-wide security. Configuring a VPN on a router will encrypt all your traffic and prevent hackers from exploiting home network security.
Universal Plug and Play conveniently connect home network devices, but it also has some significant risks associated. It increases your network’s vulnerability that hackers can disrupt to get access. The best way is to turn off UPnP from router’s settings or set up a VPN router to keep your network away from cyber-attackers.