CERT: AOL's ICQ chat app has security flaw

A security hole in America Online Inc.'s ICQ chat program could allow attackers to run the code of their choice on a computer using the program, the federally-funded computer security organization Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center (CERT/CC) said in an advisory Thursday. AOL has fixed the flaw on its servers, but also recommends that users upgrade their ICQ program to the new version which does not have the vulnerability, because the server fix will not solve the problem entirely, CERT/CC said.

The security hole in ICQ affects all versions of AOL Mirabilis ICQ prior to, and including, version 2001A as well as the Voice Video & Games plug-in installed by versions prior to 2001B Beta v5.18 Build #3659, CERT said.

The flaw operates in much the same way as a security hole discovered in early January in AOL's other chat program, Instant Messenger. ICQ is vulnerable to a buffer overflow attack in which the memory allocated to the Voice Video & Games component is overwhelmed, allowing attackers to run any code they choose on the target system, CERT said. In all versions of ICQ prior to 2001B, the vulnerable code is a part of the program, though in 2001B and later versions, the vulnerable code has been moved into a plug-in, CERT said.

Thanks to AOL's fix, when ICQ's client versions 2001B and up connect to AOL's servers, the plug-in is disabled, preventing an attack, CERT said. However, because versions 2001A and earlier include the vulnerable code as part of the program and not as a plug-in that can be disabled, AOL recommends that ICQ users upgrade to the latest version of the program, 2001B Beta v5.18 Build #3659, in order to be protected, the advisory said.

Exploiting the flaw through other means, such as attacks in which the attacker sits between the ICQ user and the server and intercepts the user's traffic, may still be possible, CERT said.

AOL claims 122 million ICQ users worldwide.

To upgrade to the latest version of ICQ, users should go to http://www.icq.com/download.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sam Costello

PC World
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?