19 Jun

Making Changes to Fix Claimed Vulnerabilities in WordPress Plugins Can Have a Negative Impact

Fairly regularly we have found that reports of vulnerabilities in WordPress plugins turn out to be false. That doesn’t always stop developers from making change to fix them as if they really existed (at the same time developers often don’t fix real vulnerabilities). In many cases the change improves the plugin as the change doesn’t fix a vulnerability, but what was allowed to occur before could be consider a bug. In other cases the change duplicates something already occurring in the plugin or WordPress, which increases resource usage slightly, but doesn’t really make a major change. But as what happened recently with WP Job Manager shows it is possible that it could have a negative impact.

As we discussed last week, in the most recent release of the plugin a change was made so that files could no longer be uploaded through the plugin’s AJAX functionality by those not logged in to WordPress. We don’t really understand what the security relevancy of that was supposed to be as those not logged in would normally still be able to upload files through the plugin and according to a report labeling it as a vulnerability, their ability to upload images was supposed to be issue. The report even stated that there were website defacements due to this, which we haven’t been able to come up with an explanation as to how that could be possible since the types of are restricted so you can’t upload directly malicious files.

As thread on the support forum for the plugin shows websites using the plugin were using that removed functionality and that its removal has impacted them doing business:

Since recent running updates for WordPress and plugins. Users are no longer able to upload images via front end form when purchasing listing package.

 

We’ve also ran into this issue. In fact, it cost us a sale already 🙁

This is a good reminder that reporters of vulnerabilities should be careful and make sure they are in fact reporting something that is a vulnerability (and listen when someone else lets them know that something isn’t a vulnerability).  Developers should also be aware that reports of vulnerabilities are not always correct, at the same time they shouldn’t just ignore them as seems too often be the case.

This also seems like a good time remind people that we are also happy to provide free help to any developer of a WordPress plugin that is dealing with a security issue.

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