Worst WordPress hole for five years affects 86% of sites


An estimated 86 per cent of WordPress websites harbour a dangerous cross-site scripting (XSS) hole in the popular comment system plugin, in what researcher Jouko Pynnonen calls the most serious flaw in five years. The bug could provide a pathway for attacking visitors’ machines.

The WP-Statistics plugin lets attackers inject JavaScript into comments, which can then infect reader computers or those of administrators.

The flaw has existed for about four years, affecting versions between 3.0 to 3.9.2 – but not version 4.0, which handles regular expressions differently.

Version 4.0.1 patched a separate and also critical set of XSS flaws discovered by the internal security team, along with a cross-site request forgery hole.

Klikki Oy security bod Jouko Pynnonen revealed the earlier flaw last week in technical advisory.

“An attacker could exploit the vulnerability by entering carefully crafted comments, containing program code, on WordPress blog posts and pages. Under default settings comments can be entered by anyone without authentication,” Pynnonen said.

He continued:

Program code injected in comments would be inadvertently executed in the blog administrator’s web browser when they view the comment. The rogue code could then perform administrative operations by covertly taking over the administrator account.

Such operations include creating a new administrator account (with a known password), changing the current administrator password, and in the most serious case, executing attacker-supplied PHP code on the server. This grants the attacker operating system level access on the server hosting WordPress.

In light of the server-side impact the unauthenticated default exploit is “probably the most serious WordPress core vulnerability that has been reported since 2009”, according to Pynnonen.

He developed a proof-of-concept exploit that mopped up evidence of injected scripts before quietly using the plugin editor to write attacker-supplied PHP code on the server, changing the user’s password and creating an administrator account.

Attackers could then write more PHP code to the server through the editor. This code was instantly executed using an AJAX request to gain operating system-level access.

Other plugins that allow unprivileged users to enter HTML text could offer more attack vectors, Pynnonen said.

He has created a work-around plugin for administrators who are unable to upgrade their WordPress servers.

A third set of recently patched XSS in WP-Statistics has been discovered by Sucuri researcher Marc-Alexandre Montpas. The stored and reflected XSS in versions 8.3 and below of the WordPress plug-in also turned attackers into admins, permitting black hats to inject search engine optimisation (SEO) content into unrelated blog posts.

“… the problem is very simple,” Montpas wrote in a Nov 20 blog post. “The plugin fails to properly sanitise some of the data it gathers for statistical purposes, which are controlled by the website’s visitors.”

“If an attacker decided to put malicious Javascript code in the affected parameter, it would be saved in the database and printed as-is in the administrative panel, forcing the victim’s browser to perform background tasks on its behalf.”

To finish the article and for more information follow the source link below! 

Source: The Register


Millions At Risk As WordPress Plugins Ridden With Critical Vulnerabilities


A host of WordPress plugins contain serious flaws, including many e-commerce add-ons dealing with online payments, researchers have warned.

The vulnerable WordPress plugins detected by Tel-Aviv-based security firm Checkmarx were downloaded millions of times. The researchers warned the flaws could allow hackers to use the WordPress platform, the most popular CMS in the world, as a vehicle for mass infection and malware distribution.

As the plugins are open source, as the WordPress platform itself is, Checkmarx was able to scan code of the top 50 most downloaded plugins on two occasions, once in January, then in early June.

The first test uncovered 18 vulnerable plugins, which were downloaded 18.5 million times. Some of those were produced by WordPress itself, which has now issued fixes, Checkmarx said.

All 18 had been updated by the time Checkmarx did its second test, but just six of the plugins were properly fixed by that time.

In its June test, the firm also found over 20 percent of the most 50 popular add-ons could be exploited by a number of common attacks, such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting. Any sites running these vulnerable plugins are therefore vulnerable too.

SQLi sees attackers attempt to get databases to cough up false information, usually by entering queries into search boxes or in a URL to cause the related SQL database to falter. Automated tools make this kind of hit much easier to carry out.

“If the plugin is vulnerable, say to SQLi, so is the website vulnerable to that type of attack,” Maty Siman, Checkmarx CTO, told TechWeekEurope. “A hacker looking to perform a SQLi attack can simply take any one of the existing automated attack tools, point it to the vulnerable site and attempt to exploit it.”

The researchers also discovered seven out of top 10 most popular e-commerce plugins contained flaws. They were downloaded 1.7 million times.

Checkmarx did not reveal which plugins were vulnerable, but said they included social ones linking to Facebook and certain APIs.

The researchers said whilst it was clear there were some serious security problems with WordPress plugins, other platform providers suffer similar problems.

“The impact? Hackers can exploit these vulnerable applications to access sensitive information such as personally identifiable information (PII), health records and financial details,” the company’s report read.

“Other vulnerabilities allow hackers to deface the sites or redirect them to another attacker-controlled site. In other cases, hackers can take control of the vulnerable sites and make them part of their botnet heeding to the attacker’s instructions.”

Source: Tech Week Europe