Wordpress 2.5 Cookie Integrity Protection Vulnerability Apr 25 2008 04:02PM
Steven J. Murdoch bugtraq+Steven.Murdoch (at) cl.cam.ac (dot) uk [email concealed] (bugtraq+Steven Murdoch cl cam ac uk)
Wordpress 2.5 Cookie Integrity Protection Vulnerability

Original release date: 2008-04-25
Last revised: 2008-04-25
Latest version: http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/users/sjm217/advisories/wordpress-cookie-integri
CVE ID: CVE-2008-1930
Source: Steven J. Murdoch <http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/users/sjm217/>

Systems Affected:

Wordpress 2.5


An attacker, who is able to register a specially crafted username on
a Wordpress 2.5 installation, is able to generate authentication
cookies for other chosen accounts.

This vulnerability exists because it is possible to modify
authentication cookies without invalidating the cryptographic
integrity protection.

If a Wordpress blog is configured to freely permit account creation,
a remote attacker can gain Wordpress-administrator access and then
elevate this to arbitrary code execution as the web server user.

The vulnerability is fixed in Wordpress 2.5.1

I. Description

Since version 2.5, Wordpress authenticates logged-in users through a
cryptographically protected cookie, based on papers by Fu et al [1]
and Liu et al [2]. This measure was introduced partly in response to
vulnerability CVE-2007-6013 [3,4].

The new cookies are of the form:

"wordpress_".COOKIEHASH = USERNAME . "|" . EXPIRY_TIME . "|" . MAC


COOKIEHASH: MD5 hash of the site URL (to maintain cookie uniqueness)
USERNAME: The username for the authenticated user
EXPIRY_TIME: When cookie should expire, in seconds since start of epoch
MAC: HMAC-MD5(USERNAME . EXPIRY_TIME) under a key derived
from a secret and USERNAME . EXPIRY_TIME.

The flaw in this scheme is that USERNAME and EXPIRY_TIME are not
delimited in the MAC calculation. Hence the cookie may be modified,
without altering MAC, provided that the concatenation of USERNAME and
EXPIRY_TIME remains unchanged.

This class of vulnerability, the cryptographic splicing attack, was
commented on by Fu et al [1], but Wordpress does not employ their
recommended defence.

An attacker wishing to exploit this vulnerability would therefore
create an unprivileged account with its username starting with
"admin". The cookie returned on logging into this account can then be
manipulated so as to be valid for the administrator account.

II. Impact

A remote attacker, who can create an account with specially crafted
username, is able to gain administrator level access to the Wordpress
installation. Through standard techniques, this can be escalated to
arbitrary PHP code execution as the web server system user.

III. Solution

Upgrade to Wordpress 2.5.1


- De-select "Anyone can register" in the Membership section of
General Settings to disable account creation.


[1] Dos and Don'ts of Client Authentication on the Web,
Kevin Fu, Emil Sit, Kendra Smith, Nick Feamster
[2] A Secure Cookie Protocol,
Alex X. Liu, Jason M. Kovacs, Chin-Tser Huang, Mohamed G. Gouda
[3] Wordpress Cookie Authentication Vulnerability: CVE-2007-6013
Steven J. Murdoch,
[4] http://trac.wordpress.org/ticket/5367


2008-04-22: security (at) wordpress (dot) com [email concealed] notified
Confirmation of receipt received
2008-04-25: Wordpress 2.5.1 released incorporating patch
Vulnerability notice published

w: http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/users/sjm217/

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