Lack of controls when using WordPress’ update_option() with user input data equals plugin nightmare

As mentioned in recent posts, WordPress’ update_option() function is used to update any option in the options database table. If the permission flow when using this function isn’t correctly implemented by developers, attackers can gain admin access or inject arbitrary data into any site.

This is the case for the plugin Login or Logout Menu Item, which currently has over 10,000 installations (versions <= 1.1.1). This vulnerability allows unauthenticated attackers to arbitrarily update some plugin options and redirect any user to an external malicious URL.

function lolmi_save_settings() { 
if(isset($_POST['lolmi_settings_submit'])) { 

$login_page_url = (isset($_POST['lolmi_login_page_url']) && !empty($_POST['lolmi_login_page_url'])) ? $_POST['lolmi_login_page_url'] : wp_login_url(); $login_redirect_url = (isset($_POST['lolmi_login_redirect_url']) && !empty($_POST['lolmi_login_redirect_url'])) ? $_POST['lolmi_login_redirect_url'] : home_url(); $logout_redirect_url = (isset($_POST['lolmi_logout_redirect_url']) && !empty($_POST['lolmi_logout_redirect_url'])) ? $_POST['lolmi_logout_redirect_url'] : home_url(); 

update_option('lolmi_login_page_url', esc_url_raw($login_page_url)); 
update_option('lolmi_login_redirect_url', esc_url_raw($login_redirect_url));
update_option('lolmi_logout_redirect_url', esc_url_raw($logout_redirect_url)); 

[...]
} 
}

What's the problem with the function above?

  • It updates the key “_lolmi_login_pageurl” with any value provided by the user
  • Does not check for capability
  • Does not check nonce

A patch was released on August 5th, 2019 to address this vulnerability:

--Version: 1.1.1
++Version: 1.2.0
Plugin URI: https://caseproof.com

[…]
 ++ <?php wp_nonce_field('lolmi_nonce'); ?>
<input type="submit" id="lolmi_settings_submit" name="lolmi_settings_submit" value="<?php _e('Save Settings', 'lolmi'); ?>" class="button button-primary" />
</form>
[…]      
function lolmi_save_settings() {
 if(isset($_POST['lolmi_settings_submit'])) {
++if(!current_user_can('manage_options')) { die("Cheating eh?"); }
++check_admin_referer('lolmi_nonce');
[...]

With just a few lines of code in the right place, developers can avoid security issues related to the misuse of this function and keep their users safe.

These kind of bugs are always the first choice for bad actors—they don’t need any authentication on the site, it’s monetizable, and really easy to automate.

Here's how they are exploiting this particular bug in old versions of the plugin Login or Logout Menu Item:

192.169.157.142 - lolmi_settings_submit=1&lolmi_login_page_url=http[:]//gabriellalovecats[.]com/wp-login.php [0/Aug/2019] "POST /wp-admin/admin-post.php?action=lolmi_save_settings HTTP/1.1"