Security Experts:

VideoLAN Says Flaws Exist in Codecs Library, Not VLC

Two vulnerabilities that could potentially be exploited for arbitrary code execution exist in libavcodec, a free and open-source audio/video codecs library used by several popular media players.

The issues were discovered last year by Turkey-based researcher Veysel Hatas. Hatas said the vulnerabilities exist in the VLC media player and even got the MITRE Corporation to assign them CVE identifiers.

However, VideoLAN, the non-profit organization that develops VLC, pointed out that the security holes actually exist in libavcodec, which is used as the main decoding engine not only by VLC, but several other media players as well, including Xine and MPlayer.

Jean-Baptiste Kempf, the president of VideoLAN and one of the lead developers of VLC, believes that assigning the CVEs to VLC is “ just wrong.”

“This is not a VLC security issue, but a libavcodec one,” Kempf told SecurityWeek in an email. “The researcher was told numerous times, but refused to acknowledge it.”

In his advisory, Hatas said the security holes can be exploited by a context-dependent attacker to corrupt memory and possibly execute arbitrary code.

The researcher says the first vulnerability is a DEP access violation bug (CVE-2014-9597).

“VLC Media Player contains a flaw that is triggered as user-supplied input is not properly sanitized when handling a specially crafted FLV file,” reads the advisory published last week.

In the case of the second issue (CVE-2014-9598), which has been described as a write access violation vulnerability by the researcher, the attack involves specially crafted .M2V files.

Hatas said he successfully reproduced the vulnerabilities on VLC 2.1.5, the latest stable version of the media player, on Windows XP SP3.

Kempf has pointed out that VLC 2.1.5 on Linux is not affected because an updated version of the library is used. He has also highlighted that the vulnerability doesn’t affect VLC 2.2.0-rc2 on any operating system.

Representatives of the FFmpeg team, which develops the libavcodec library, told SecurityWeek that they were unable to reproduce the issues reported by Hatas on VLC 2.1.5 running on Windows 7. The developers have tested both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of VLC.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.