VLC Developer Debunks Reports of ‘Critical Security Issue’ In Open Source Media Player

New submitter Grindop53 shares a report: Widespread reports of a “critical security issue” that supposedly impacted users of VLC media player have been debunked as “completely bogus” by developers. Earlier this week, German computer emergency response team CERT-Bund — part of the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) — pushed out an advisory warning network administrators and other users of a high-impact vulnerability in VLC. It seems that this advisory can be traced back to a ticket that was opened on VLC owner VideoLAN’s public bug tracker more than four weeks ago. The alleged heap-based buffer overflow flaw was disclosed by a user named “topsec(zhangwy),” who stated that a malicious .mp4 file could be leveraged by an attacker to take control of VLC media player users’ devices. The issue was flagged as high-risk on the CERT-Bund site, and the vulnerability was assigned a CVE entry (CVE-2019-13615).

However, according to VideoLAN president Jean-Baptiste Kempf, the exploit does not work on the latest VLC build. In fact, any potential issues relating to the vulnerability were patched more than a year ago. “There is no security issue in VLC,” Kempf told The Daily Swig in a phone conversation this morning. “There is a security issue in a third-party library, and a fix was pushed [out] 18 months ago.” When asked how or why this oversight generated so much attention, Kempf noted that the reporter of the supposed vulnerability did not approach VideoLAN through its security reporting email address. “The guy never contacted us,” said Kempf, who remains a lead developer at the VLC project. “This is why you don’t report security issues on a public bug tracker.”

Kempf and his team were unable to replicate the issue in the latest version of VLC, leading many to believe that the bug reporter was working on a computer running an outdated version of Ubuntu. “If you report a security issue, at least update your Linux distribution,” Kempf said.