29 Jun

What Happened With WordPress Plugin Vulnerabilities in May 2018

If you want the best information and therefore best protection against vulnerabilities in WordPress plugins we provide you that through our service.

Here is what we did to keep those are already using our service secure from WordPress plugin vulnerabilities during May (and what you have been missing out on if you haven’t signed up yet):

Plugin Vulnerabilities We Discovered and Publicly Disclosed This Month

We don’t just collect data on vulnerabilities in plugins that others have discovered, we also discover vulnerabilities through proactive monitoring of changes made to plugins, monitoring hackers’ activity, reviewing other vulnerabilities, and by doing additional checking on the security of plugins.

The most concerning vulnerability is an arbitrary file upload vulnerability, which is type that is normally highly likely to be exploited, though this one is only exploitable if an admin page has been visited at some point prior to the exploitation attempt.

Plugin Vulnerabilities We Helped Get Fixed This Month

Letting you know that you are using a vulnerable version of plugin is useful, but it is much more useful if you can fully protect yourself by simple updating to a new version. So we work with plugin developers to make sure that vulnerabilities get fixed.

This month we help to get plugins with 155,300 active installations, according to wordpress.org, fixed.

Vulnerabilities Added This Month That Are In The Current Version of the Plugins

Keeping your plugins up to date isn’t enough to keep you secure as these vulnerabilities in the current versions of plugins show:

Additional Vulnerabilities Added This Month

As usual, there were plenty of other vulnerabilities that we added to our data during the month.

04 Jun

Vulnerability Details: Reflected Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) Vulnerability in Form Maker

From time to time a vulnerability is fixed in a plugin without the discoverer putting out a report on the vulnerability and we will put out a post detailing the vulnerability so that we can provide our customers with more complete information on the vulnerability.

We often find that the various things that we do come to together to help improve each other and that ...


Our Vulnerability Details posts provide the details of vulnerabilities we didn't discover and access to them is limited to customers of our service due to other security companies trying to sponge off the work needed to create those instead of doing their own work.

For existing customers, please log in to your account to view the rest of the post.

If you are not currently a customer, you can try the service for free for the first month (there are a lot of other reason that you will want to sign up beyond access to posts like this one).

If you are a WordPress plugin security researcher please contact us to get free access to all of our Vulnerability Details posts.

02 May

Even Popular WordPress Plugins Not Getting Much Needed Cursory Security Checks

One of the ways we are very different from the other sources of vulnerability data on WordPress plugins that we are aware of, is that we actually review each reported vulnerability when preparing to add it to our data. That means that we can provide higher quality data than other sources, so you don’t get told among other things that an unfixed vulnerability has been fixed and don’t get warned about vulnerabilities that don’t exist as you do with other sources. That also means we have looked at numerous reports and we have seen the good and the bad of handling of security in WordPress plugins. Something we ran across recently managed to surprise us and is a good reminder that even popular plugins can have glaring security failures that are left in place for years.

The plugin Form Maker (also referred to as Form Maker by WD) as you might guess from the name handles forms on website and is fairly popular, with 90,000+ active installs according to wordpress.org. Last Wednesday a new version, 1.11.2 was released, which had as one of its changelog entries “Fixed: Security issue”. After noticing that the new version was indicated to have a security fix we looked around to see if there had been a report released on the issue, when we didn’t find any we started to take a look at the changes made in that version to see if the fixed security issue was a vulnerability that we should be adding to our data set.

What looked to be the relevant change was running a variable through the escaping function esc_html() in the file /admin/views/FMViewSubmissions_fm.php:

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$temp[$g]->element_value = esc_html($temp[$g]->element_value);

Based on the name of file it seemed possible that this was related the page that would show the contents of submitted forms. It seems hard to believe that the plugin wouldn’t be properly handling the security of user input coming through forms submissions. Not only is that very basic when it comes to security, but if the developer had missed doing that you would think that for plugin used on some many websites someone else would have checked on that.

We then tried to see if there was previously a persistent cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability that change indicates that there might have been. We were immediately able to cause a persistent XSS to occur, though with further checking we found that we had gotten a bit lucky.

What we found is that if you changed the value of a selected radio button in a form to JavaScript code that code be saved unchanged in the database as part of the form submitting and the JavaScript would be output and run on the Submissions page in the WordPress admin area. The escaping added in version 1.11.2 prevents the JavaScript code from running.

When we went to do further testing we found that when we tried to submit JavaScript code in text input in a form that it was being saved to the database in escaped form and was still escaped when out Submissions page in the WordPress admin area. Clearly there was something different happening in the plugin’s processing of those two types of inputs.

In what might explain why the vulnerability had been in the plugin and had been there for a long time we had a bit of trouble figuring out where the code for saving form submissions that was involved here was located (it was located in the function save_db() in the file /frontend/models/FMModelForm_maker.php ). Once we found that the reason for this discrepancy between the handling of those inputs was obvious.

Here is the line for saving a radio input:

$value = isset($_POST['wdform_'.$i."_element".$id]) ? $_POST['wdform_'.$i."_element".$id] : "";

By comparison here is the text input’s line:

$value = isset($_POST['wdform_'.$i."_element".$id]) ? esc_html($_POST['wdform_'.$i."_element".$id]) : "";

In that the value is passed esc_html(), unlike the radio input.

Going back through older versions we found that the escaping that occurs for some inputs was not there when the code was originally added, instead in occurred in June of 2014, so before that the other inputs were also available to use for persistent XSS. For the version that changed occurred in, 1.7.10,  the changelog entry is “security issue fixed”. Its odd that the others were not changed in the same way at the time and that the more recent fix did not involve doing that as they are still stored in the database in potentially unsafe way (if say, another plugin were to display their data without doing their own escaping). We have just sent a message to the developer suggesting they do that.

That previous incomplete fix seems like another indication that having more eyes review security changes could leave to further improvements. We do plenty of that type work now, but it could be made easier for us and others to do that. It would be particularly helpful if developers provided more information on security fixes, so that others could easily review them. Instead of something like this where we had to dig through the changes made in a new version to try to figure out what is going on. While it is way down the list of things WordPress could do to improve security, them putting in place a formal process where developers could submit information on security fixes and it could be reviewed by others looks like it could lead to better security.