A serious SQL injection vulnerability was patched on Tuesday by WordPress developers with the release of version 4.8.3.
The flaw, discovered by Anthony Ferrara, can be exploited via WordPress plugins and themes to achieve SQL injection, which can often allow attackers to take control of vulnerable websites. Developers made some changes to the WordPress core in an effort to prevent exploitation.
The issue is related to a SQL injection vulnerability discovered a few months ago by a researcher who uses the online moniker “Slavco.” It was one of the nine flaws patched on September 19 with the release of WordPress 4.8.2.
The fix introduced by WordPress developers was controversial as it broke many websites. Furthermore, shortly after the patch was released, Ferrara, who is the VP of engineering at Lingo Live, discovered that the latest version did not fix the root cause of the vulnerability.
Ferrara immediately reported his findings to the WordPress security team, but it took them roughly 6 weeks to understand the problem and create a proper patch.
The researcher had initially planned on disclosing the details of the flaw without the availability of a patch after seeing that the WordPress security team was having problems seeing the full extent of the issue. He did however attempt to reach out to plugin developers and hosting providers in an effort to help them patch their products prior to disclosure.
“It took literally 5 weeks to even get someone to consider the actual vulnerability. From there, it took me publicly threatening Full Disclosure to get the team to acknowledge the full scope of the issue (though they did start to engage deeper prior to the FD threat),” Ferrara said in a blog post.
“Security reports should be treated ‘promptly’, but that doesn’t mean every second counts (usually). I get that there are competing priorities. But show attention. Show that you’ve read what’s written. And if someone tells you it seems like you don’t understand something, stop and get clarification,” he added.
WordPress website administrators have been advised to update their installations as soon as possible. It’s not uncommon for malicious actors to start exploiting WordPress vulnerabilities to hijack websites shortly after they are disclosed.