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 newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sam Costello

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?