Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) is a set of computer network Protocol (computing)|protocols promulgated by the UPnP Forum. The goals of UPnP are to allow Peripheral device|devices to connect seamlessly and to simplify the implementation of computer network|networks in the home (data sharing, communications, and entertainment) and corporate environments. UPnP achieves this by defining and publishing UPnP device control protocols built upon open, Internet-based communication standardization|standards.
The term UPnP is derived from plug-and-play, a technology for dynamically attaching devices directly to a computer.
The UPnP architecture allows peer-to-peer networking of Personal Computer|PCs, networked appliances, and wireless devices. It is a distributed, open architecture based on established standards such as internet protocol suite|TCP/IP, User Datagram Protocol|UDP, HTTP and XML.
The UPnP architecture supports zero-configuration Computer network|networking. A UPnP compatible device from any vendor can dynamically join a network, obtain an IP address, announce its name, convey its capabilities upon request, and learn about the presence and capabilities of other devices. Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol|DHCP and Domain Name System|DNS servers are optional and are only used if they are available on the network. Devices can leave the network automatically without leaving any unwanted state (computer science)|state information behind.
Other UPnP features include:
- Media and device independence
- UPnP technology can run on many media that support IP including Ethernet, FireWire, IR (IrDA), power lines (Power line communication|PLC) and RF (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi). No special device driver support is necessary; common protocols are used instead.
- User interface (UI) Control
- UPnP architecture enables vendor control over device user interface and interaction using the web browser.
- Operating system and programming language independence
- Any operating system and any programming language can be used to build UPnP products. UPnP does not specify or constrain the design of an API for applications running on control points; OS vendors may create APIs that suit their customer's needs. UPnP enables vendor control over device UI and interaction using the browser as well as conventional application programmatic control.
- Programmatic control
- UPnP architecture also enables conventional application programmatic control.
- Each UPnP product can have device-specific services layered on top of the basic architecture.
The foundation for UPnP networking is IP addressing. Each device must have a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) client and search for a DHCP server when the device is first connected to the network. If no DHCP server is available, that is, the network is unmanaged, the device must assign itself an address. If during the DHCP transaction, the device obtains a domain name, for example, through a DNS server or via DNS forwarding, the device should use that name in subsequent network operations; otherwise, the device should use its IP address.
Given an IP address, the step 1 in UPnP networking is Discovery. When a device is added to the network, the UPnP discovery protocol allows that device to advertise its services to control points on the network. Similarly, when a control point is added to the network, the UPnP discovery protocol allows that control point to search for devices of interest on the network. The fundamental exchange in both cases is a discovery message containing a few, essential specifics about the device or one of its services, for example, its type, identifier, and a pointer to more detailed information. The UPnP discovery protocol is based on the Simple Service Discovery Protocol (SSDP).
The next step in UPnP networking is description. After a control point has discovered a device, the control point still knows very little about the device. For the control point to learn more about the device and its capabilities, or to interact with the device, the control point must retrieve the device's description from the URL provided by the device in the discovery message. The UPnP description for a device is expressed in XML and includes vendor-specific, manufacturer information like the model name and number, serial number, manufacturer name, URLs to vendor-specific web sites, etc. The description also includes a list of any embedded devices or services, as well as URLs for control, eventing, and presentation. For each service, the description includes a list of the commands, or actions, to which the service responds, and parameters, or arguments, for each action; the description for a service also includes a list of variables; these variables model the state of the service at run time, and are described in terms of their data type, range, and event characteristics.
The next step in UPnP networking is control. After a control point has retrieved a description of the device, the control point can send actions to a device's service. To do this, a control point sends a suitable control message to the control URL for the service (provided in the device description). Control messages are also expressed in XML using the SOAP|Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP). Like function calls, in response to the control message, the service returns any action-specific values. The effects of the action, if any, are modeled by changes in the variables that describe the run-time state of the service.
The next step in UPnP networking is event notification, or "eventing". A UPnP description for a service includes a list of actions the service responds to and a list of variables that model the state of the service at run time. The service publishes updates when these variables change, and a control point may subscribe to receive this information. The service publishes updates by sending event messages. Event messages contain the names of one or more state variables and the current value of those variables. These messages are also expressed in XML and formatted using the General Event Notification Architecture (GENA). A special initial event message is sent when a control point first subscribes; this event message contains the names and values for all evented variables and allows the subscriber to initialize its model of the state of the service. To support scenarios with multiple control points, eventing is designed to keep all control points equally informed about the effects of any action. Therefore, all subscribers are sent all event messages, subscribers receive event messages for all "evented" variables that have changed, and event messages are sent no matter why the state variable changed (either in response to a requested action or because the state the service is modeling changed).
The final step in UPnP networking is presentation. If a device has a Uniform Resource Locator|URL for presentation, then the control point can retrieve a page from this URL, load the page into a web browser, and depending on the capabilities of the page, allow a user to control the device and/or view device status. The degree to which each of these can be accomplished depends on the specific capabilities of the presentation page and device.
UPnP AV (Audio and Video) standards
UPnP AV stands for UPnP Audio and Video, and is a grouping within the UPnP standards supervised by the Digital Living Network Alliance|DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance), (formerly: Digital Home Working Group), which is a forum of vendors and manufacturers who work in the home entertainment industry, and offer a "DLNA CERTIFIED™" branding for those products which follow their Networked Device Interoperability Guidelines. The Digital Living Network Alliance|DLNA forum members "share a vision of a wired and wireless interoperable network of Personal Computers (PC), Consumer Electronics (CE) and mobile devices in the home enabling a seamless environment for sharing and growing new digital media and content services," and "DLNA is focused on delivering an interoperability framework of design guidelines based on open industry standards to complete the cross-industry digital convergence". On 12 July 2006 the UPnP Forum announced the release of 'Enhanced AV Specifications', this release was version 2 of the UPnP Audio and Video specifications (UPnP AV v2), with new MediaServer version 2.0 and MediaRenderer version 2.0 classes. These enhancements are created by adding capabilities to the UPnP AV MediaServers|UPnP AV MediaServer and MediaRenderer device classes that allow a higher level of interoperability between MediaServers and MediaRenderers from different manufacturers. Some of the early devices complying with these standards were marketed by Philips under the Streamium brand name. .
UPnP AV components
- UPnP MediaServer DCP - which is the UPnP-server (a 'master' device) that shares/streams media-data (like audio/video/picture/files) to UPnP-clients on the network.
- UPnP MediaServer ControlPoint - which is the UPnP-client (a 'slave' device) that can auto-detect UPnP-servers on the network to browse and stream media/data-files from them.
- UPnP MediaRenderer DCP - which is a 'slave' device that can render content.
- UPnP RenderingControl DCP - control MediaRenderer settings; volume, brightness, RGB, sharpness, and more).
- UPnP Remote User Interface (RUI) client/server - which sends/receives control-commands between the UPnP-client and UPnP-server over network, (like record, schedule, play, pause, stop, etc.).
- Web4CE (CEA 2014) for UPnP Remote UI - CEA-2014 standard designed by Consumer Electronics Association's R7 Home Network Committee. Web page|Web-based Protocol (computing)|Protocol and Software framework|Framework for Remote User Interface on UPnP Computer networking|Networks and the Internet (Web4CE). This standard allows a UPnP-capable home network device to provide its User interface|interface (display and control options) as a web page to display on any other device connected to the home network. That means that you can control a Computer networking|home networking device through any Web browser|web-browser-based communications method for Consumer Electronics Association|CE devices on a UPnP home network using ethernet and a special version of HTML called CE-HTML.
- QoS (Quality of Service) - is an important (but not mandatory) service function for use with UPnP AV (Audio and Video). Quality of Service|QoS (Quality of Service) refers to control mechanisms that can provide different priority to different users or data flows, or guarantee a certain level of performance to a data flow in accordance with requests from the application program. Since UPnP AV is mostly to deliver streaming media that is often near real-time or real-time audio/video data which it is critical to be delivered within a specific time or the stream is interrupted. Quality of Service|QoS (Quality of Service) guarantees are especially important if the network capacity is limited, for example public networks, like the internet.
- Quality of Service|QoS (Quality of Service) for UPnP consist of Sink Device (client-side/front-end) and Source Device (server-side/back-end) service functions. With Class (computer science)|classes such as; Traffic Class that indicates the kind of traffic in the traffic stream, (for example, audio or video). Traffic Identifier (TID) which identifies data packets as belonging to a unique traffic stream. Traffic Specification (TSPEC) which contains a set of parameters that define the characteristics of the traffic stream, (for example operating requirement and scheduling). Traffic Stream (TS) which is a unidirectional flow of data that originates at a source device and terminates at one or more sink device(s).
One solution for NAT traversal|NAT (Network Address Translation) traversal, called the Internet Gateway Device Protocol|Internet Gateway Device (IGD) Protocol, is implemented via UPnP. Many router|routers and firewall|firewalls expose themselves as Internet Gateway Devices, allowing any local UPnP controller to perform a variety of actions, including retrieving the external IP address of the device, enumerate existing port mappings, and adding and removing port mappings. By adding a port mapping, a UPnP controller behind the IGD can enable traversal of the IGD from an external address to an internal client.
Problems with UPnP
Lack of Authentication
The UPnP protocol does not implement any authentication, so UPnP device implementations must implement their own authentication mechanisms, or implement the Device Security Service. Unfortunately, many UPnP device implementations lack authentication mechanisms, and by default assume local systems and their users are completely trustworthy. Most notably, Routers and firewalls running the UPnP IGD protocol are vulnerable to attack since the framers of the IGD implementation omitted to add any standard authentication method.
For example, Adobe Flash programs are capable of generating HTTPU (HTTP over UDP) requests. This allows a router implementing the UPnP IGD protocol to be controlled by a malicious web site when someone with a UPnP-enabled router simply visits that web site. The following changes can be made silently by code embedded in an Adobe Flash object hosted on a malicious website:
- Port forwarding|Port forward internal services (ports) to the router external facing side (i.e. expose computers behind a firewall to the Internet).
- Port forwarding|Port forward the router's web administration interface to the external facing side.
- Port forwarding to any external server located on the Internet, effectively allowing an attacker to attack an Internet host via the router, while hiding their IP address.
- Change Domain name system|DNS server settings so that when victims believe they are visiting a particular site (such as an on-line bank), they are redirected to a malicious website instead.
- Change the Domain name system|DNS server settings so that when a victim receives any software updates (from a source that isn't properly verified via some other mechanism, such as a checking a Public key certificate|digital certificate has been signed by a trusted source), they download malware|malicious code instead.
- Change administrative credentials to the router/firewall.
- Change Point-to-Point Protocol|PPP settings.
- Change IP address|IP settings for all interfaces.
- Change WiFi settings.
- Terminate connections.
This only applies to the #NAT traversal|"firewall-hole-punching"-feature of UPnP; it does not apply when the IGD does not support UPnP or UPnP has been disabled on the IGD.Template:Fact Also, not all routers can have such things as DNS server settings altered by UPnP because much of the specification (including LAN Host Configuration) is optional for UPnP enabled routers.
- UPnP uses HTTP over User Datagram Protocol|UDP (known as HTTPU and HTTPMU for unicast and multicast), even though this is not standardized and is specified only in an Internet-Draft that expired in 2001. 
- UPnP does not have a lightweight authentication protocol, while the available security protocols are complex. As a result, some UPnP devices ship with UPnP turned off by default as a security measure.
The standard Devices Profile for Web Services|DPWS is a candidate successor for UPnP. It solves many of the problems of UPnP. A DPWS client is included in Microsoft Windows Vista as part of the Windows Rally technologies.
Another alternative, NAT Port Mapping Protocol|NAT-PMP, is an IETF draft introduced by Apple Inc in 2005.
- Golden G. Richard: Service and Device Discovery : Protocols and Programming, McGraw-Hill Professional, ISBN 0-07-137959-2
- Michael Jeronimo, Jack Weast: UPnP Design by Example: A Software Developer's Guide to Universal Plug and Play, Intel Press, ISBN 0-9717861-1-9
- UPnP™ Forum
- DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance)
- The Jini, Vision
- technique comparison
- Microsoft WHDC UPnP webpage & links
- Universal Plug and Play in Windows XP
- Programmatically Controlling a UPnP-Capable Firewall is a document providing some basic information about coding UPnP software controllers (VBScript example source code included).
- Hacking with UPnP
- DLNA certified: how your computer, cellphone, games console, media streamer and other devices can play nicely together
- Vulnerability Note VU#347812 - UPnP enabled by default in multiple devices at United States Department of Homeland Security - Computer Emergency Readiness Team (Wednesday, 9 April 2008).
- Security firm predicts Microsoft Windows UPnP exploit by the end of the week at The Inquirer (Wednesday, 11 April 2007).
- Microsoft security updates for April 2007 to fix the above Microsoft Windows UPnP security issue.
- How to use Flash and UPnP to punch holes in most home firewalls at GNUCITIZEN (Saturday, 12 January 2008).
- UPnP Port Works (alias UPnPW) is a software implementation to configure UPnP devices via commandline.
- GUPnP is an object-oriented open source framework for creating UPnP devices and control points, written in C using GObject and libsoup.
- Portable SDK for UPnP Devices provides an API and open source code for building control points, devices, and bridges compliant with UPnP Device Architecture Specification v1.0 and support operating systems like Linux, *BSD, Solaris and others.
- Barracuda UPnP Device and Control Point SDK for embedded devices.
- Unplug n' Pray Utility to disable unnecessary UPnP servers running on home Windows machines.
- Coherence Some free DLNA/UPnP tools (MediaServer/MediaRender) with a python framework. Running on Linux/BSD/Windows
- AdoubleU IntelligentShare UPnP SDK for J2SE / J2ME / MIDP 2.0 Running on Linux/BSD/Windows/Mobile Devices
- BRisa BRisa is written in Python for Internet Tablet OS or other Unix platforms. It enables to create MediaServer/MediaRenderer devices allowing users to share and search content from UPnP A/V devices. It will offer a plugin architecture enabling new services such as Flickr to be added as UPnP services.
- J. River Media Center includes a UPnP server (aka UPnP Device) for its library.
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