[wp-hackers] Making WP more secure the evolutionary way

g30rg3_x g30rg3x at gmail.com
Tue Jan 27 00:12:02 GMT 2009

Hi *,

x2 to Jacob Santos...

The original proposal of Florian Thiel (if i understand his point
well) is making "WP more secure" truth and a DB Abstracted layer.
IMHO: If we are just applying the abstraction layer just for "security
reasons" it would only lead us (sooner or later) to fail.

Best Regards
PS: This discussion took a really 360º turn.

2009/1/21 Florian Thiel <flo.thiel+wphackers at googlemail.com>:
> Hello everybody,
> My name is Florian and I'm doing research on open source projects and
> security for my diploma thesis. I would like to propose (patch
> included) a very lightweight, evolutionary approach to fix or at least
> mitigate SQL Injection weaknesses, some of which plagued WordPress in
> the past.
> Previous attempts to "just make WordPress use data access abstraction"
> (as sometimes proposed on the mailing list) were understandably met
> with a lot of opposition as large structural changes don't come easy
> in an open source project (or any project).
> I noticed that there already is basic data access abstraction in the
> code (e.g. $wpdb->insert and $wpdb->update in wp-db.php) and also an
> issue in the tracker that says developers should use these
> abstractions more often. That's why I think you are fundamentally in
> favor of these abstractions and I'd like to make the transition easier
> for everybody.
> I produced a patch against WordPress 2.7 which annotates and
> classifies all uses of raw inline SQL. The classification tells you
> how much work it would be to get rid of the inline use of SQL. The
> patch can be found at
> http://www.noroute.de/downloads/research/wordpress-2.7_sqlannotations.diff
> >From the 443 places where I found inline SQL, there are 85 places
> where an abstraction already exists and just had to be used (these are
> mostly the cases which were mentioned in the issue
> tracker). Furthermore, there are 172 places where a trivial
> implementation (trivial meaning that a very similar method already
> exists) would help get rid of the use of inline SQL. So by adding
> around 5 simple methods to wp-db.php you would get rid of more than
> 250 problematic uses of inline SQL. And the best part: We can start
> with the low-hanging fruit and gradually move to the harder ones while
> keeping the code working all the time!
> The process is really simple: Find a spot you'd like to fix, get rid
> of the use of raw SQL (for annotations containing
> "trivial_implementation", "simple_code" and "algorithmic" you may need
> to write the abstraction methods first, see descriptions at the bottom
> of the posting) and remove the annotation. A simple search
> gives you the number of annotations remaining, so you know how for
> along you are. (There's a tiny script at
> http://www.noroute.de/downloads/research/sqlannotation_stats.sh that
> gives you annotation count for the different classes (run it in the
> root folder of the source code); works on unix only, sorry).
> I'd definitely like to get feedback from you, even (or especially) if
> you don't think my approach is worth it. If you have any concerns,
> questions or further suggestions I'll be delighted to help. I'll be in
> the loop. If this works for you I'll do another annotation set for
> HTML escaping against XSS.
> You can find a detailed explanation of the classes of inline SQL use
> at the bottom of this posting.
> Hope to hear from you,
> Florian
> ----
> Detailed description of the SQL annotation classifications:
> method_exists:
> This can be easily fixed by looking up the correct abstraction in
> wp-db.php and applying it.
> trivial_implementation:
> The SQL statement does not use any "advanced" features and a similar
> abstraction already exists for another SQL clause. You can look
> at the existing abstractions in wp-db.php and create a new one for the
> needed clause. Applies to DELETE, DROP and SELECT, etc.
> simple_code:
> After you have all the abstractions for trivial_implementation you can
> go on implementing advanced SQL features like LIMIT, GROUP BY etc.
> algorithmic:
> These are the most advanced abstractions. Here you need an algorithm
> that can generate complex clauses. The most prominent clauses here are
> WHERE (including inequality, AND, OR, NOT, IN, parentheses and LIKE),
> SELECT (with AS and functions) and JOIN.
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> wp-hackers mailing list
> wp-hackers at lists.automattic.com
> http://lists.automattic.com/mailman/listinfo/wp-hackers


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