Francisco Burzi PHP-Nuke Administrative Privileges Vulnerability

PHP-Nuke is a website creation/maintainence tool written in PHP3. It is possible to elevate priviliges in this system from normal user to administrator due to a flaw in authentication code. The problem occurs here:

$aid = variable holding author name, pwd = author password

$result=mysql_query("select pwd from authors where aid='$aid'");
if(!$result) {
echo "Selection from database failed!";
} else {

if($pass == $pwd) {
$admintest = 1;

First off, the code checks to make sure the query passed to mysql_query is legal. There are no checks to see whether any rows are returned (whether any authors match $aid..). Then, the password given is compared to the result of the above query. If the author doesn't match, mysql_fetch_row returns FALSE. This is where the problem occurs. A NULL string is logically equal to FALSE and thus if an empty string is supplied as password, the condition tested for above (the if($pass == $pwd)) is met and admintest is set to 1 (TRUE). The user is then able to perform all administrative functions.


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