Security Experts:

vBulletin Fixes SQL Injection Vulnerability That Exposes Website Databases

Software developer vBulletin announced on Wednesday that it had released a patch to address a serious SQL injection vulnerability affecting the its forum software.

The existence of the security hole came to light on Tuesday, when Nytro, the administrator of the hacker community forum Romanian Security Team (RST) published a video demonstrating an SQL Injection attack against the latest version of vBulletin (5.1.2). The expert said he didn't plan on selling the exploit; instead he reported his findings to vBulletin developers.

After analyzing the issue, vBulletin determined that the vulnerability also affects versions 5.0.4, 5.0.5, 5.1.0 and 5.1.1.   

"We have released security patches to account for this vulnerability. The issue may allow attackers to perform SQL injection attacks on your database. It is recommended that all users update as soon as possible," said vBulletin Technical Support Lead Wayne Luke.

Forums hosted on vBulletin Cloud have been patched automatically. The fix will also be included in the next release of vBulletin 5.1.3 Alpha, which is not recommended for production or live servers.

SQL Injection flaws, which enable attackers to gain unauthorized access to a website's databases and possibly even to the underlying server, are highly common. A study published in April by the Ponemon Institute revealed that 65% of surveyed IT professionals had detected at least one SQL Injection attack that bypassed their defense systems. The study found that, on average, it takes organizations 140 days to discover such attacks.

Nytro says he will make the exploit for this vulnerability public, but only after users get the chance to patch their installations. On the other hand, Sucuri CTO Daniel Cid believes that the flaw might already be exploited in the wild considering that it was discovered by the members of a hacker forum.

vBulletin security holes are often targeted by cybercriminals because the platform is used to power well over 100,000 forums. In October 2013, Imperva reported that over 35,000 websites were compromised by attackers who abused the vBulletin configuration mechanism to create a secondary administrative account that gave them full control over targeted sites. Shortly after, vBulletin reported that its own networks had been breached in a sophisticated attack. At the time, the company refuted a hacker group's claims about a zero-day exploit.

Nytro's proof-of-concept video is embedded below.


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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.