[wp-hackers] WordPress <= 2.8.5 Unrestricted File Upload Arbitrary PHP Code Execution

Dawid Golunski golunski at onet.eu
Wed Nov 11 17:08:04 UTC 2009

- Release date: November 11th, 2009
- Discovered by: Dawid Golunski
- Severity: Moderately High

WordPress <= 2.8.5 Unrestricted File Upload Arbitrary PHP Code Execution

WordPress is a state-of-the-art publishing platform with a focus on  
aesthetics, web standards,
and  usability. WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time.  
More simply, WordPress is
what you use when you want to work with your blogging software, not  
fight it.


Wordpress allows authorised users to add an attachment to a blog post.
It does not sanitize provided file properly before moving it to an  
uploads directory.

The part of the code responsible for uploading files looks as follows:

line 217:
function wp_handle_upload( &$file, $overrides = false, $time = null ) {
// All tests are on by default. Most can be turned off by  
$override[{test_name}] = false;
$test_form = true;
$test_size = true;

// If you override this, you must provide $ext and $type!!!!
$test_type = true;
$mimes = false;

// A properly uploaded file will pass this test. There should be no  
reason to override this one.
if (! @ is_uploaded_file( $file['tmp_name'] ) )
         return $upload_error_handler( $file, __( 'Specified file  
failed upload test.' ));

// A correct MIME type will pass this test. Override $mimes or use the  
upload_mimes filter.
if ( $test_type ) {
         $wp_filetype = wp_check_filetype( $file['name'], $mimes );

         extract( $wp_filetype );

         if ( ( !$type || !$ext ) && ! 
current_user_can( 'unfiltered_upload' ) )
                 return $upload_error_handler( $file,
					       __( 'File type does not meet security guidelines. Try  
another.' ));

         if ( !$ext )
                 $ext = ltrim(strrchr($file['name'], '.'), '.');

         if ( !$type )
                 $type = $file['type'];
} else {
         $type = '';

// A writable uploads dir will pass this test. Again, there's no point  
overriding this one.
if ( ! ( ( $uploads = wp_upload_dir($time) ) && false ===  
$uploads['error'] ) )
         return $upload_error_handler( $file, $uploads['error'] );

$filename = wp_unique_filename( $uploads['path'], $file['name'],  
$unique_filename_callback );

// Move the file to the uploads dir
$new_file = $uploads['path'] . "/$filename";
if ( false === @ move_uploaded_file( $file['tmp_name'], $new_file ) ) {
         return $upload_error_handler( $file,
		   sprintf( __('The uploaded file could not be moved to %s.' ),  
$uploads['path'] ) );
---[cut ]---

 From the above code we can see that provided filename gets checked  
$wp_filetype = wp_check_filetype( $file['name'], $mimes );

Here is how the wp_check_filetype() function looks like:

line 2228:

function wp_check_filetype( $filename, $mimes = null ) {
         // Accepted MIME types are set here as PCRE unless provided.
         $mimes = ( is_array( $mimes ) ) ? $mimes :  
apply_filters( 'upload_mimes', array(
                 'jpg|jpeg|jpe' => 'image/jpeg',
                 'gif' => 'image/gif',
                 'png' => 'image/png',
                 'bmp' => 'image/bmp',
                 'tif|tiff' => 'image/tiff',
                 'ico' => 'image/x-icon',
                 'asf|asx|wax|wmv|wmx' => 'video/asf',
                 'avi' => 'video/avi',
				---[cut, more mime types]---
line 2279:

         $type = false;
         $ext = false;

         foreach ( $mimes as $ext_preg => $mime_match ) {
                 $ext_preg = '!\.(' . $ext_preg . ')$!i';
                 if ( preg_match( $ext_preg, $filename,  
$ext_matches ) ) {
                         $type = $mime_match;
                         $ext = $ext_matches[1];

         return compact( 'ext', 'type' );

We can see that type of the file gets set to a predefined MIME type  
that matches supplied
extension, and that the extension is obtained from a regexp that  
matches a mime ext. string after
the LAST dot.
If extension is not on the list $type and $ext will be set to FALSE  
and wordpress will
produce an error ("File type does not meet security guidelines. Try  

Let's look at the other check that is performed on the filename before  
a file gets uploaded,
that is a call to the following function:
$filename = wp_unique_filename( $uploads['path'], $file['name'],  
$unique_filename_callback );

line 2096:
function wp_unique_filename( $dir, $filename,  
$unique_filename_callback = null ) {
         // sanitize the file name before we begin processing
         $filename = sanitize_file_name($filename);

         ---[cut, code that only matters if uploaded file already  
line 2126:
		return $filename;

To have a complete view on file sanitization performed by wordpress we  
need to look into the
sanitize_file_name() function:

line 601:
function sanitize_file_name( $filename ) {
         $filename_raw = $filename;
         $special_chars = array("?", "[", "]", "/", "\\", "=", "<",  
">", ":", ";", ",", "'", "\"",
				"&", "$", "#", "*", "(", ")", "|", "~", "`", "!", "{", "}", chr(0));
         $special_chars = apply_filters('sanitize_file_name_chars',  
$special_chars, $filename_raw);
         $filename = str_replace($special_chars, '', $filename);
         $filename = preg_replace('/[\s-]+/', '-', $filename);
         $filename = trim($filename, '.-_');
         return apply_filters('sanitize_file_name', $filename,  

This function removes special characters shown above, replaces spaces  
and consecutive dashes with
a single dash, trims period, dash and underscore from beginning and  
end of the filename.

The sanitization process appears quite extensive however it does not  
take into account files that
have multiple extensions.
It is possible to upload a file containing an arbitrary PHP script  
with an extension of '.php.jpg'
and execute it by requesting the uploaded file directly.

The execution of the PHP code despite the .php.jpg extension is  
possible because Apache
allows for multiple extensions. Here is a quote from Apache docs  
regarding this matter:

Files can have more than one extension, and the order of the  
extensions is normally irrelevant.
For example, if the file welcome.html.fr maps onto content type text/ 
html and language French then
the file welcome.fr.html will map onto exactly the same information.  
If more than one extension is
given that maps onto the same type of meta-information, then the one  
to the right will be used,
except for languages and content encodings. For example, if .gif maps  
to the MIME-type  image/gif
and .html maps to the MIME-type text/html, then the file  
welcome.gif.html will be associated with
the MIME-type text/html.

Care should be taken when a file with multiple extensions gets  
associated with both a MIME-type
and a handler. This will usually result in the request being handled  
by the module associated with
the handler. For example, if the .imap  extension is mapped to the  
handler imap-file
(from mod_imagemap) and the .html extension is mapped to the MIME-type  
text/html, then the file
world.imap.html will be associated with both the imap-file handler and  
text/html MIME-type.
When it is processed, the imap-file handler will be used, and so it  
will be treated as a
mod_imagemap imagemap file.

Browser is enough to replicate this issue. Simply log in to your  
wordpress blog as a low privileged
user or admin. Create a new post and use the media file upload feature  
to upload a file:


containing the following code:


After the upload you should receive a positive response saying:


and it should be possible to request the uploaded file via a link:

thus executing the PHP code it contains.

In the above code example, a php info page will be shown.

An attacker that has already obtained login details (for example by  
stealing user's cookies with
an XSS attack) to the blog as one of the existing users could exploit  
this vulnerability to get
access to the system in the Apache user's context.
 From there he could use local bugs to further escalate the  
privileges. Apache account would be
enough in most cases to view the source codes and gain access to the  

Some wordpress users of the 2.8.5 release have reported that some php  
files have been added to
their wordpress directory. It could be possible that they have been  
hit by this bug. Therefore it
is important to take some countermeasures as soon as possible.

Most likely all of the wordpress releases contain this bug. Including  
the current hardened stable
release 2.8.5 and the beta version.

Vendor has been informed about the bug. Currently wordpress developers  
and contributors are in
the process of bug hunting and fixing reported bugs in beta versions  
before the new stable release,
so hopefully it should not take long for them to take this problem  
into account.

You can apply the temporary solutions for this problem which I provide  
below before an official
patch is made.

You can create a .htaccess file in the uploads dir (wordpress/wp- 
content/uploads) with
the following content:

deny from all
<Files ~ "^\w+\.(gif|jpe?g|png|avi)$">
	order deny,allow
	allow from all

Adjust allowed file extensions in the brackets if necessary.
This will prevent Apache from serving files with double extensions  
inside the uploads directory.

Alternatively you can try to patch the source code yourself by editing  
wp-admin/includes/file.php file and the wp_handle_upload() function it  
contains. An example patch
could be to add the following three lines of code at the line 260:

// Fix Unrestricted File Upload Arbitrary PHP Code Execution bug,  
return if more than 1 extension provided
if ( count(explode('.', $file['name'])) > 2 );
         return $upload_error_handler( $file, __( 'File type does not  
meet security guidelines. Try another.' ));


This vulnerability has been discovered by Dawid Golunski
golunski (at) onet (dot) eu

Greetings go to: robxt, sajanek, xsoti, bart, falcon (for the old  
time's sake :) and complexmind

November 11th, 2009: Initial release

The information contained within this advisory is supplied "as-is"  
with no warranties or guarantees of fitness of
use or otherwise. I accept no responsibility for any damage caused by  
the use or misuse of this information.

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