Security Experts:

WordPress Plugin With 1 Million Installs Has Critical Flaw

Researchers discovered that NextGEN Gallery, a WordPress image gallery plugin that has more than 1 million active installs, is affected by a critical SQL injection vulnerability.

The flaw, identified by experts at web security firm Sucuri, allows a remote attacker to easily gain access to the targeted website’s database, including sensitive data such as passwords and secret keys.

The SQL injection vulnerability exists because the plugin’s developers have not properly sanitized user input. The issue was addressed last week with the release of version 2.1.79, but there is no mention of it in the changelog.

“This is quite a critical issue,” warned Sucuri vulnerability researcher Slavco Mihajloski. “If you’re using a vulnerable version of this plugin, update as soon as possible!”

According to Mihajloski, there are two different attack scenarios: one where the targeted site uses a NextGEN Basic TagCloud Gallery, and one where users are allowed to submit posts for review.

In the first attack scenario, the attacker can execute SQL queries by modifying the URL of the gallery. In the second scenario, an authenticated attacker can execute malicious code via shortcodes.

There are no reports about the vulnerability being exploited in the wild, but attacks could be launched in the upcoming period considering the large number of potentially vulnerable installations.

This is not the first time researchers have found a serious vulnerability in the NextGEN Gallery plugin. Last year, experts uncovered a remote code execution flaw.

A study conducted last year by RIPS Technologies showed that 8,800 plugins available in the official WordPress plugins directory had been affected by at least one vulnerability. Nearly 2,800 apps had high severity and 41 had critical flaws.

WordPress continues to be the most targeted content management system (CMS) and attackers have plenty of vulnerabilities to choose from when targeting WordPress websites.

A critical vulnerability patched in WordPress in January has been exploited against a large number of websites, including for defacements and remote code execution, despite WordPress developers not immediately disclosing its existence in an effort to give users enough time to patch their installations.

Related: Backdoor Uploaded to WordPress Sites via eCommerce Plugin Zero-Day

Related: Persistent XSS Patched in WooCommerce WordPress Plugin

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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.