When connecting new devices to your business’s network, you might be wondering whether Universal Plug and Plag (UPnP) is secure. UPnP is a common feature on many network-connected devices. Maybe you’re connecting a new computer to your business’s network, or perhaps you’re setting up a printer. Regardless, network-connected devices often feature UPnP.

What Is UPnP?

UPnP is a set of protocols that, when enabled, allows devices on the same network to communicate with and control each other. You can use it to access a printer, for instance, from all computers. Assuming the printer has Wi-Fi capabilities, you just need to connect it to your business’s network and ensure that UPnP is enabled. You can print documents remotely from other computers connected to your business’s network.

How Does UPnP Work?

Even if you’ve used UPnP before, you may not know how it works. Basically, UPnP leverages a set of protocols — TCP/IP, HTTP, SOAP and XML — to facilitate device-to-device communications. UPnP doesn’t use a single protocol. Rather, it uses four different protocols.

All of the protocols used by UPnP are networking protocols. Therefore, they don’t require any additional software. UPnP is universal in the sense that it works with nearly all network-connected devices. As long as you connect a device to your business’s network, it will likely support UPnP.

Security Concerns With UPnP

Because it allows devices on the same network to communicate with and even control each other, UPnP poses some security concerns.

There’s no authentication with UPnP. Authentication is the process of verifying the identity of a user or device. It’s designed to prevent unauthorized users or devices from accessing a network. UPnP doesn’t offer authentication — at least by not default. Instead, it assumes that all users and devices have the necessary privileges to access the network.

Hackers can use UPnP to bypass firewalls. Many networks have a firewall between their connected devices and the internet. With UPnP, hackers can essentially create virtual gateways by connecting to a victim’s router. If your router is targeted, it may allow hackers to bypass your firewall.

Disabling UPnP: What You Should Know

If you’re worried about the aforementioned security concerns, you may want to disable UPnP. UPnP is a router feature. Depending on which type of router you use, you should be able to disable it.

To disable UPnP, start by logging in to your router. You should find the option to enable or disable UPnP under the “NAT Forwarding” section. If you’re unable to find this option, check your router’s instruction manual for assistance.