RIPS Analysis

When inspecting the charts generated by RIPS, a code execution vulnerability indicated as critical catches our eye. Investigating this issue closer quickly reveals that the vulnerability lies in the administrator panel, seemingly nulling the severity of the vulnerability. We will see later in this post that this is not the case. All issues were found in exactly 20 seconds inside of ~76,000 lines of code.

The truncated analysis results are available in our RIPS demo application. Please note that we limited the results to the issues described in this post since there are no fixes available.

Case Study

We will now explain how a cross-site request forgery attack might lead to remote code execution. A second vulnerability-chain will be presented, a cross-site scripting vulnerability using SQL injection.

Remote Code Execution

The remote code execution vulnerability lies within an internal cronjob plugin. Since the cronjob plugin is deactivated by default, our vulnerability seems to be less severe. However, Redaxo does not make use of anti-CSRF protection mechanisms allowing an attacker to activate and install the plugin within a single sent HTTP request. The plugin enables administrators of Redaxo CMS to add cronjobs in form of PHP code to their site and execute them laterby.


class rex_cronjob_phpcode extends rex_cronjob {
    public function execute() {
        $code = preg_replace('/^\<\?(?:php)?/', '', $this->getParam('code'));
        $is = ini_set('display_errors', true);
        $return = eval($code);

This feature allows the following attack-scenario:
Whenever an authenticated administrator of Redaxo CMS 5.2.0 visits a malicious page like, a client-side language, such as JavaScript, can send the following two HTTP-requests from the victims browser:

  1. Activate and install the internal cronjob-plugin by sending a GET request to the targeted server.
  2. Add a cronjob with malicious PHP-code which will be executed after a given period of time by sending a POST request.

These two HTTP-requests now yield in a remote code execution vulnerability. Note that the given PHP code will be stored in the SQL-database of Redaxo and not directly in an individual file.

Cross-Site Scripting

The cross-site scripting vulnerability is located in the internal structure add-on of Redaxo which is activated by default. It provides access to a linkmap in which user-controlled input flows unsanitized into JavaScript context allowing an attacker to control the execution flow of the client-side language.


$opener_input_field = rex_request('opener_input_field', 'string');
$opener_input_field_name = rex_request('opener_input_field_name', 'string');

// Build JS Functions

if (substr($opener_input_field, 0, 13) == 'REXLINKLIST') {
    $id = substr($opener_input_field, 13, strlen($opener_input_field));
    $func_body .= 'var linklist = "REX_LINKLIST_SELECT__' . $id . '";
                 opener.writeREXLinklist(' . $id . ');';
} else {

<?php echo $func_body . "\n" ?>

In the given code snippet, the GET-parameter opener_input_field is read from the request in line 5. Then, in line 10, the if-constraint ensures that the first thirteen characters of the opener_input_field parameter have to be REX_LINK_LIST. Finally, in line 11, the first thirteen characters (REX_LINK_LIST) are removed from our input, and the result is stored in the $id variable at line 12 and 14, which is printed to the HTML response page in line 17. Thus, an attacker can inject arbitrary JavaScript code that is reflected in a victim’s browser.

The payload can initiate the two previously introduced HTTP requests that lead to remote code execution. Contrarily to an CSRF attack, the attacker can prepare an URL that points to the domain of the targeted Redaxo installation instead of an attacker-controlled domain and, thus, gain more trust of the victim for visiting the URL.

SQL Injection

Redaxo allows its users to make a backup of the SQL database. However, as can be seen in the following, it does not hinder the user to export any SQL tables not related to Redaxo, which is a great trampoline for us to further escalate our cross-site scripting vulnerability.


$exporttype = rex_post('exporttype', 'string');

$EXPTABLES = rex_post('EXPTABLES', 'array');

if ($exporttype == 'sql') {
    // —————————— FUNC EXPORT SQL
    $header = 'plain/text';
    $hasContent = rex_backup::exportDb($export_path . $filename . $ext, $EXPTABLES);

Shortly after retrieving the user input in line 20, the input parameter EXPTABLES is passed unsanitized in the exportDb() function which basically reads all fields and contents of the tables specified by the EXPTABLES array. In the end, the query result is attached to the HTTP body.

By chaining these two vulnerabilities together an attacker could potentially dump all databases on the server with a malicious JavaScript payload and send it to his own server.

Time Line

Date What
2016/09/15 First contact with vendor
2016/10/25 Vendor rates the issues as not critical
2016/11/29 Reminder sent to the vendor about the upcoming blog post


One of the most important conclusions we take by this analysis should be the appeal to implement anti-CSRF measures for the web application, specifically for security-critical functionality. In addition to that, sufficient input sanitization has to be applied - in the frontend as well as in the administrators panel - to further secure the application against remote attacks.

The vendor does not consider the vulnerabilities severe because they are located in the administration area of the application and upcoming fixes are delayed indefinately.

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APAV Time Table

Date Author Title
24 Dec 2016 Johannes Dahse What we learned from our Advent Calendar
23 Dec 2016 Hendrik Buchwald e107 2.1.2: SQL Injection through Object Injection
22 Dec 2016 Daniel Peeren Security Compliance with Static Code Analysis
21 Dec 2016 Martin Bednorz AbanteCart 1.2.8 - Multiple SQL Injections
20 Dec 2016 Martin Bednorz Kliqqi From Cross-Site Request Forgery to Code Execution
19 Dec 2016 Robin Peraglie osClass 3.6.1: Remote Code Execution via Image File
18 Dec 2016 Daniel Peeren Continuous Integration - Jenkins at your service
17 Dec 2016 Johannes Dahse OpenConf 5.30 - Multi-Step Remote Command Execution
16 Dec 2016 Robin Peraglie Redaxo 5.2.0: Remote Code Execution via CSRF
15 Dec 2016 Dennis Detering Guest Post: Vtiger 6.5.0 - SQL Injection
14 Dec 2016 Hendrik Buchwald The State of Wordpress Security
13 Dec 2016 Johannes Dahse phpBB 2.0.23 - From Variable Tampering to SQL Injection
12 Dec 2016 Martin Bednorz Teampass Unauthenticated SQL Injection
11 Dec 2016 Daniel Peeren Rescanning Applications with RIPS
10 Dec 2016 Hendrik Buchwald Non-Exploitable Security Issues
9 Dec 2016 Hendrik Buchwald Precurio 2.1: Remote Command Execution via Xinha Plugin
8 Dec 2016 Martin Bednorz PHPKit 1.6.6: Code Execution for Privileged Users
7 Dec 2016 Hendrik Buchwald Serendipity 2.0.3: From File Upload to Code Execution
6 Dec 2016 Robin Peraglie Roundcube 1.2.2: Command Execution via Email
5 Dec 2016 Hendrik Buchwald Expression Engine 3.4.2: Code Reuse Attack
4 Dec 2016 Johannes Dahse Introducing the RIPS analysis engine
3 Dec 2016 Martin Bednorz eFront 3.6.15: Steal your professors password
2 Dec 2016 Martin Bednorz Coppermine 1.5.42: Second-Order Command Execution
1 Dec 2016 Hendrik Buchwald FreePBX 13: From Cross-Site Scripting to Remote Command Execution
25 Nov 2016 Martin Bednorz Announcing the Advent of PHP Application Vulnerabilities

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