16 Apr

Our Proactive Monitoring Caught a PHP Object Injection Vulnerability in a Another Brand New Plugin

One of the ways we help to improve the security of WordPress plugins, not just for our customers, but for everyone using them, is the proactive monitoring of changes made to plugins in the Plugin Directory to try to catch serious vulnerabilities. That again has lead to us catching a vulnerability of a type that hackers are likely to exploit if they know about it.

This vulnerability is in a brand new plugin, Disc Golf Manager, and should have been something that the security review that is supposed to be done before new plugins can be added to the Plugin Directory should have caught. It is something that would have been flagged by our Plugin Security Checker, so it would make sense to run plugins through that during that security review to avoid this type of situation continuing to happen. That it continues to happen speaks to the continued lack of interest in improving security by the leadership of WordPress (starting at the top with Matt Mullenweg) and the continued role we play in limiting the impact of that for everyone else. We would be happy to provide the Plugin Directory team free access to the upload and developer mode capabilities to facilitate that.

The vulnerability occurs in function flashProcess() in the file /main.php where the value of the cookie “disc_golf_flash” is passed through the unserialize() function, which can lead to PHP object injection:

function flashProcess() {
	if(isset($_COOKIE[$this->key . '_flash'])) {
		$temp = unserialize(base64_decode($_COOKIE[$this->key . '_flash']));

That function will run anytime a WordPress page is being accessed:

add_action('init', array($this, 'flashProcess'));

We notified the developer of the issue a week ago. We haven’t heard back from them and no new version has been released to fix the issue. In line with our disclosure policy, which is based on the need to provide our customers with information on vulnerabilities on a timely basis, we are now disclosing this vulnerability.

Proof of Concept

With our plugin for testing for PHP object injection installed and activated, set the value of the cookie “disc_golf_flash” to “TzoyMDoicGhwX29iamVjdF9pbmplY3Rpb24iOjA6e30=” and then when you visit a page on the webiste the message “PHP object injection has occurred.” will be shown.


  • April 9, 2018 – Developer notified.

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