With dozens of millions of active users a day, uTorrent has long been the most used torrent client.
The software has been around for well over a decade and it’s still used to shift petabytes of data day after day. While there haven’t been many feature updates recently, parent company BitTorrent Inc. was alerted to a serious security vulnerability recently.
The security flaw in question was reported by Google vulnerability researcher Tavis Ormandy, who first reached out to BitTorrent in November last year. Google’s Project Zero allows developers a 90-day window to address security flaws but with this deadline creeping up, BitTorrent had remained quiet.
Late last month Ormandy again reached out to BitTorrent Inc’s Bram Cohen, fearing that the company might not fix the vulnerability in time.
“I don’t think bittorrent are going to make a 90 day disclosure deadline, do you have any direct contacts who could help? I’m not convinced they understand the severity or urgency,” Ormandy wrote on Twitter.
While Google’s security researcher might have expected a more swift response, the issue wasn’t ignored.
BitTorrent Inc has yet to fix the problem in the stable release, but a patch was deployed in the Beta version last week. BitTorrent’s Vice President of Engineering David Rees informed us that this will be promoted to the regular release this week, if all goes well.
While no specific details about the vulnerability have yet to be released, it is likely to be a remote execution flaw. Ormandy previously exposed a similar vulnerability in Transmission, which he said was the “first of a few remote code execution flaws in various popular torrent clients.”
BitTorrent Inc. told us that they have shared their patch with Ormandy, who confirmed that this fixes the security issues.
uTorrent Beta release notes
“We have also sent the build to Tavis and he has confirmed that it addresses all the security issues he reported,” Rees told us. “Since we have not promoted this build to stable, I will reserve reporting on the details of the security issue and its fix for now.”
BitTorrent Inc. plans to release more details about the issue when all clients are patched. Then it will also recommend users to upgrade their clients, so they are no longer at risk, and further information will also be available on Google’s Project Zero site.
Of course, people who are concerned about the issue can already upgrade to the latest uTorrent Beta release right away. Or, assuming that it’s related to the client’s remote control functionality, disable that for now.
Note: uTorrent’s Beta changelog states that the fixes were applied on January 15, but we believe that this should read February 15 instead.