Google white hackers disclosed critical vulnerabilities in uTorrent clients

White hackers at Google Project Zero have discovered two critical remote code execution vulnerabilities in versions of BitTorrent’s web-based uTorrent Web client and uTorrent Classic desktop client.

With dozens of millions of active users a day, uTorrent is one of the most popular torrent client, the vulnerabilities could be easily exploited by the researchers to deliver a malware on the target computer or view the past downloads.

Project Zero hacker Tavis Ormandy published a detailed analysis of the issues because the vulnerabilities were not fixed in a 90-day period according to the disclosure policy.

utorrent security

The flaws are tied to various JSON-RPC issues, or issues related to the way the web-based apps handle JavaScript Object Notations (JSON) as they relate to the company’s remote procedure call (RPC) servers.

“By default, utorrent create an HTTP RPC server on port 10000 (uTorrent classic) or 19575 (uTorrent web). There are numerous problems with these RPC servers that can be exploited by any website using XMLHTTPRequest(). To be clear, visiting *any* website is enough to compromise these applications.0 reads the technical analysis.”

Both desktop and web-based uTorrent clients use a web interface to display website content, the presence of JSON-RPC issues make possible the attack decribed by Ormandy,

The expert discovered that the issue can allow an attacker to trigger a flaw in the clients by hiding commands inside web pages that interact with uTorrent’s RPC servers.

An attacker can exploit the vulnerability to change the torrent download folder and download a file to any writable location, including the Windows Startup folder and download an executable file, that will be executed on every startup. The  attacker could exploit the same flaw to gain access to user’s download activity information.

The researchers explained that a remote exploitation of the flaw requires a DNS rebinding attack that allows a JavaScript code hosted on a website to create a bridge to the local network bypassing the same-origin policy (SOP).

“This requires some simple DNS rebinding to attack remotely, but once you have the (authentication) secret you can just change the directory torrents are saved to, and then download any file anywhere writable,” Ormandy wrote.

“The authentication secret is not the only data accessible within the webroot – settings, crashdumps, logs and other data is also accessible. As this is a complete remote compromise of the default uTorrent web configuration, I didn’t bother looking any further after finding this,” the researcher added.

Ormandy released proof-of-concept (PoC) code for the flaws he discovered.

This week, BitTorrent released an official statement on the matter:

“On December 4, 2017, we were made aware of several vulnerabilities in the uTorrent and BitTorrent Windows desktop clients. We began work immediately to address the issue. Our fix is complete and is available in the most recent beta release (build 3.5.3.44352 released on 16 Feb 2018). This week, we will begin to deliver it to our installed base of users. All users will be updated with the fix automatically over the following days. The nature of the exploit is such that an attacker could craft a URL that would cause actions to trigger in the client without the user’s consent (e.g. adding a torrent).”


Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – uTorrent, hacking)



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