UPnP is a convenient protocol that automatically discovers new devices on a local network and shares data; it can expose your network to malicious activity. At the end of the day, which would you choose: convenience or security? Determining whether or not you keep your router’s UPnP functionality enabled depends on how you use your network, and we’ll dive into how UPnP works, its benefits, and the threats it carries so you can make an informed decision.
What is UPnP?
UPnP, which stands for Universal Plug and Play, is a protocol that allows apps and other devices on the network to open and close ports automatically to connect. For instance, if you purchased a new printer, UPnP can automatically connect it to your phone, tablet, or PC.
How does UPnP benefit users?
UPnP is a convenient way for users to set up new devices on their networks. It enables devices such as printers, media servers, and Wi-Fi access points to discover each other’s presence and enable data sharing. There are several areas where implementing UPnP can be useful:
- Gaming – Enabling UPnP makes it easier to connect with other players in multiplayer games
- IoT – With UPnP enabled, smart home devices such as smart TV’s, smart lights, smart curtains, and thermostats allow for quick setup and information sharing between them
- Media Streaming – Enabling UPnP allows you to stream media between devices on a network without the need for transferring data using a hard drive
What threats does UPnP expose users to?
Since UPnP does not implement authentication, it opens the door to any devices that want to connect to the network, assuming that this new device is trustworthy.
It’s a simple way for hackers to this flaw to quickly gain access to your local network and manage any of your connected devices remotely.
UPnP potentially creates an entry point for malware access. When the firewall refuses the unfamiliar device’s access, UPnP ignores the refusal and opens a port anyway, regardless of whether it’s an honest connection or due to criminal activity. Phishing attacks, accessing your IoT security cameras, or even stealing credit card information are just some of the ways people can exploit the UPnP protocol.
Depending how you use your network, Mercku allows you to enable or disable UPnP easily using the convenient Mercku app or web interface.
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