Security Experts:

Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?



Vulnerabilities in OpenEMR Healthcare Software Expose Patient Data

Vulnerabilities in open source health records management software OpenEMR could lead to patient data compromise, remote code execution (RCE).

Vulnerabilities in the OpenEMR healthcare software could allow remote attackers to steal sensitive patient data or execute arbitrary commands and take over systems.

OpenEMR is an open source software used for the management of health records. It also allows patients to schedule appointments, get in touch with physicians, and pay invoices.

Security researchers at Sonar Source identified and reported three vulnerabilities in OpenEMR, including two that can be chained to achieve remote code execution (RCE).

“A combination of these vulnerabilities allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary system commands on any OpenEMR server and to steal sensitive patient data. In the worst case, they can compromise the entire critical infrastructure,” Sonar warns.

The first of the identified issues is described as an unauthenticated arbitrary file read and exists because the OpenEMR installer does not delete itself after the installation is completed.

Because the installation process is divided into several steps, an unauthenticated attacker could abuse a user-controlled parameter to perform some of these steps (but not a complete setup).

The attacker can invoke a function to read the current theme from the database, which results in a database connection being established using attacker-controlled properties.

A MySQL statement can be used to load the contents of a file to the database table, and a modifier can be supplied so that the file is read from the client instead of the server.

“A malicious server can request the content of another file, even in response to a totally different query from the client,” Sonar notes.

This allows an unauthenticated attacker to use a rogue MySQL server to read OpenEMR files such as backups, certificates, passwords, and tokens.

Sonar also discovered that an attacker could abuse a cross-site scripting (XSS) flaw to execute JavaScript code in the victim’s browser. The attacker can upload a PHP file and exploit a local file inclusion (LFI) to achieve RCE.

The XSS exists because, when requesting a PHP file, the browser first renders the HTML code, and only then the JavaScript context, which allows the attacker to use HTML entities within an event handler.

The LFI, Sonar explains, exists because a user-controlled variable is concatenated to a path and not sanitized, which allows an attacker to upload a PHP file and use a path traversal via the LFI to execute the file.

Sonar reported the security defects in October 2022. One month later, the vendor patched all bugs by adding sessions and CSRF checks and restricting the installation process, by encoding the character ‘&’ for an HTML entity to prevent the XSS, and by sanitizing the user-controlled parameter to prevent the LFI.

OpenEMR version 7.0.0 resolves all vulnerabilities. Users are advised to update their installations as soon as possible.

Related: CSRF Vulnerability in Kudu SCM Allowed Code Execution in Azure Services

Related: Most Cacti Installations Unpatched Against Exploited Vulnerability

Related: Exploitation of Control Web Panel Vulnerability Starts After PoC Publication

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

Click to comment

Daily Briefing Newsletter

Subscribe to the SecurityWeek Email Briefing to stay informed on the latest threats, trends, and technology, along with insightful columns from industry experts.

Join this webinar to learn best practices that organizations can use to improve both their resilience to new threats and their response times to incidents.


Join this live webinar as we explore the potential security threats that can arise when third parties are granted access to a sensitive data or systems.


Expert Insights

Related Content


Less than a week after announcing that it would suspended service indefinitely due to a conflict with an (at the time) unnamed security researcher...

Application Security

Drupal released updates that resolve four vulnerabilities in Drupal core and three plugins.

Risk Management

The supply chain threat is directly linked to attack surface management, but the supply chain must be known and understood before it can be...


Apple has released updates for macOS, iOS and Safari and they all include a WebKit patch for a zero-day vulnerability tracked as CVE-2023-23529.

Cloud Security

VMware vRealize Log Insight vulnerability allows an unauthenticated attacker to take full control of a target system.

Application Security

A CSRF vulnerability in the source control management (SCM) service Kudu could be exploited to achieve remote code execution in multiple Azure services.

IoT Security

Lexmark warns of a remote code execution (RCE) vulnerability impacting over 120 printer models, for which PoC code has been published.


GoAnywhere MFT users warned about a zero-day remote code injection exploit that can be targeted directly from the internet