07 Jul

Wordfence’s Lack of Understanding of SQL Injection Vulnerabilities Leads to False Claim About WP Statistics Vulnerability

Yesterday we touched on how the web security company Sucuri and others in the security community were overstating the threat of a vulnerability recently discovered by Sucuri in the plugin WP Statistics. While looking over something else related to that vulnerability we came across the web security company Wordfence using that vulnerability basically as an ad for their products and services, while reminding people that are actually knowledgeable  about web security that Wordfence really don’t have a good grasp of it.

Their post starts out:

It’s been a tough week for the WP Statistics plugin. Last Friday, Sucuri (now owned by GoDaddy) discovered a SQL injection vulnerability in the WP Statistics plugin version 12.0.7 and older. To exploit the vulnerability, an attacker needs to register an account (or use a compromised account) with subscriber-level access. They can then exploit a weakness in a WP Statistics shortcode to launch a SQL injection attack. This allows them to, for example, create an admin-level user and sign in to your website as an admin.

The vulnerability doesn’t allow someone to create an admin-level user, which is something that Wordfence should know considering shortly after that in the post they tout their plugin will protect against SQL injection vulnerabilities. If you don’t understand the basics of them, then you are not likely to be good at protecting against them.

They certainly shouldn’t be out there making claims that are false like this, but considering this company even goes to the level of claiming they care more about security than WordPress while making up a threat, it really isn’t surprising.

This isn’t all that complicated, here are the vulnerable lines of code in the plugin (as identified by Sucuri):

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switch ( $time ) {
case 'today':
	$result = $wpdb->query( "SELECT * FROM `{$tablename}` WHERE `last_counter` = '{$WP_Statistics->Current_Date( 'Y-m-d' )}' AND {$search_query}" );
	break;
 
case 'yesterday':
	$result = $wpdb->query( "SELECT * FROM `{$tablename}` WHERE `last_counter` = '{$WP_Statistics->Current_Date( 'Y-m-d', -1 )}' AND {$search_query}" );
 
	break;
 
case 'week':
	$result = $wpdb->query( "SELECT * FROM `{$tablename}` WHERE `last_counter` = '{$WP_Statistics->Current_Date( 'Y-m-d', -7 )}' AND {$search_query}" );
 
	break;
 
case 'month':
	$result = $wpdb->query( "SELECT * FROM `{$tablename}` WHERE `last_counter` = '{$WP_Statistics->Current_Date( 'Y-m-d', -30 )}' AND {$search_query}" );
 
	break;
 
case 'year':
	$result = $wpdb->query( "SELECT * FROM `{$tablename}` WHERE `last_counter` = '{$WP_Statistics->Current_Date( 'Y-m-d', -365 )}' AND {$search_query}" );
 
	break;
 
case 'total':
	$result = $wpdb->query( "SELECT * FROM `{$tablename}` WHERE {$search_query}" );
 
	break;
 
default:
	$result = $wpdb->query( "SELECT * FROM `{$tablename}` WHERE `last_counter` = '{$WP_Statistics->Current_Date( 'Y-m-d', $time)}' AND {$search_query}" );
 
	break;

In that code the value of the variable $search_query, which contains user input, is used in used in multiple SQL statements without being sanitized. The important part here is that the SQL statements are SELECT statements which allow reading data from a database, they don’t allow insert anything, so you can’t add admin user or anything else (the INSERT statement would be used to insert data). What you could do is slowly read out the contents of the database, which isn’t something that we see any evidence of hackers doing against the average website (it could be used in a targeted attack).

Wordfence Fails To Mention Many Plugin Vulnerabilities

While Wordfence’s post titled a “Vulnerability Roundup” they only mentioned vulnerabilities disclosed recently in two other plugins, both of which were already fixed, while not mentioning any of the  numerous vulnerabilities in plugins that were recently disclosed that haven’t been fixed. Telling someone to update a plugin that already has been fixed is really not all that helpful, since what you really should be telling people is to keep all of their plugins up to date at all times. When vulnerabilities haven’t been fixed that is when it would be useful to make people aware of the issue. As example of Wordfence of not warning about those unfixed vulnerabilities, here are just the vulnerabilities that we disclosed last week that haven’t been fixed:

If you used our service you would know about those vulnerabilities and many others that remain unfixed, including many that are likely to be exploited.

2 thoughts on “Wordfence’s Lack of Understanding of SQL Injection Vulnerabilities Leads to False Claim About WP Statistics Vulnerability

  1. You’re wrong. If $search_query is set to something like: 1=0; INSERT INTO wp_users ... then both the SELECT query and the INSERT query are going to be executed.

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