Security Experts:

Joomla Flaw Exploited in the Wild Within Hours of Disclosure

Malicious actors started exploiting a Joomla vulnerability patched last week within hours after its details were disclosed.

Joomla 3.4.5, released last Thursday, patches a total of three vulnerabilities, including a critical SQL injection issue (CVE-2015-7297, CVE-2015-7857, CVE-2015-7858) that can be exploited by a remote attacker to hijack admin sessions and gain administrative access to affected Joomla websites.

The details of the flaw were disclosed by Trustwave shortly after Joomla developers announced the availability of version 3.4.5. Within four hours, web security firm Sucuri spotted attacks exploiting the vulnerability against two popular Joomla sites protected by its products.

Within 24 hours of disclosure, Sucuri observed exploitation attempts against all the websites on its network. Researchers noticed two types of requests: ones designed to check if the website was running Joomla, and ones designed to exploit the SQL injection in an effort to obtain a valid admin user from the targeted site’s database. Many of these malicious requests came from the Tor anonymity network, experts noted.

The number of attempts detected by Sucuri increased considerably since the flaw was disclosed, reaching more than 12,000 daily hits by Monday. After a while, the attackers started sending out requests designed to determine if websites were running vulnerable versions of Joomla, most likely in an effort to increase chances of successful exploitation.

“This data tell us is that the average webmaster has less than 24 hours to patch a site after a serious disclosure like this. That’s for the average site (small to medium size). If you have a popular site, you have a couple of hours only, from disclosure to attack and you have to react fast,” warned Daniel Cid, founder and CTO of Sucuri.

“This is why we emphasize the importance of Defense (security) in Depth. You can not just rely on being updated as your only layer of security. With the proper access control, monitoring, Intrusion detection and prevention system, you can be ahead when cases like this happen or even a 0-day exploit,” Cid added.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.