Ransomware

Rank Math Plugin Vulnerability: Risk To 2M WordPress Sites

To mitigate the flaw, the developers behind the plugin have released security patches for mitigation against the vulnerability.

by Ashish Khaitan March 26, 2024 in Firewall Daily, Vulnerabilities Reading Time: 3 mins read 0

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A affects over 2 million WordPress websites. The flaw, identified as a (XSS) vulnerability or , poses a serious risk as it could enable malicious actors to inject and execute harmful scripts, leaving sensitive data exposed to compromise.

Rank Math, a sophisticated plugin for WordPress websites has long been favored by users seeking to streamline their SEO efforts without juggling multiple plugins. To mitigate the flaw, the developers behind the plugin have released security patches for mitigation against the vulnerability.

Rank Math Plugin Vulnerability Explained

Source: Wordfence

According to security researchers from Wordfence, the Rank Math plugin vulnerability, discovered by researcher Ngô Thiên An (ancorn_), has been traced to the plugin's handling of attributes within the HowTo block, prevalent in all versions up to and including 1.0.214. 

This oversight in input sanitization and output escaping renders authenticated attackers, with contributor-level access or higher, capable of implanting arbitrary web scripts. Consequently, these scripts can execute whenever a user accesses the affected page, potentially compromising user sessions and sensitive data.

“The Rank Math SEO with AI SEO Tools plugin for WordPress is vulnerable to Stored Cross-Site Scripting via the HowTo block attributes in all versions up to, and including, 1.0.214 due to insufficient input sanitization and output escaping on user supplied attributes”, said Wordfence. 

What is Stored Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) Vulnerability?

Stored XSS vulnerabilities such as this allow attackers to upload malicious scripts, leading to browser-based attacks that could result in the theft of session cookies, thereby enabling unauthorized access to websites and the exfiltration of critical information.

The root cause of this vulnerability lies in insufficient input sanitization and output escaping, common pitfalls in plugin development that permit XSS vulnerabilities to manifest, particularly in areas where users are allowed to upload or input data. 

“This makes it possible for authenticated attackers, with contributor-level access and above, to inject arbitrary web scripts in pages that will execute whenever a user accesses an injected page”, added Wordfence. 

Input sanitization involves filtering out undesirable inputs such as scripts or HTML, ensuring that only expected text inputs are processed. Output escaping, on the other hand, verifies the output of the website to prevent malicious scripts from reaching the website browser.

Fortunately, Rank Math has promptly addressed this issue by releasing patches to rectify the vulnerability. Website administrators are strongly urged to update their Rank Math SEO plugin to the latest version without delay to protect their website's security posture.

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