WordPress is a popular content management system (CMS) that powers millions of websites around the globe. Plugins are essential components of the WordPress ecosystem, providing numerous functionalities to websites. However, plugins can also introduce security vulnerabilities if they are not properly coded and maintained. One such vulnerability is SQL Injection (SQLi), which allows an attacker to manipulate and execute malicious SQL queries on the backend database to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information.

In this article, we will discuss a SQL Injection vulnerability in the Image Horizontal Reel Scroll Slideshow (IHRSS) plugin for WordPress (versions up to and including 13.2), its exploit details, and how you can mitigate this issue.

CVE-2023-5412: Vulnerability Overview

The IHRSS plugin is a popular slideshow plugin used for displaying images in a horizontal scroll on WordPress websites. However, this plugin has a serious SQL Injection vulnerability in its shortcode due to insufficient data escaping and lack of adequate preparation for the SQL query execution.

The vulnerability allows authenticated attackers with subscriber-level access or higher permissions to append malicious SQL queries to the existing queries, potentially allowing them to extract sensitive information from the website's database.

Exploit Details

The vulnerability lies in the plugin's shortcode, which accepts a user-supplied parameter (for example, the category of images to be displayed). Here is a simplified version of the vulnerable code snippet:

function ihrss_show_shortcode($atts) {
        'cat' => '',
    ), $atts));
    // ... (other code)
    $query = "SELECT * FROM {$wpdb->prefix}options WHERE option_name = 'ihrss_options'";
    if ($cat != '') {
        $query .= " AND category_id = " . $cat;
    // ... (other code)

As you can see from the above code snippet, the $cat variable is directly appended to the SQL query without any proper input validation or escaping, resulting in a SQL Injection vulnerability.

An attacker with the required permissions can exploit this vulnerability by crafting a shortcode like this:

[ihrss_show cat="1 OR 1=1; --"]

This will inject the malicious SQL payload OR 1=1; --, causing the SQL query to return all records from the options table, potentially exposing sensitive information.

Mitigation and Remediation

To protect your website from this vulnerability, the first step is to update the IHRSS plugin to the latest version, as the issue has been fixed in version 13.3.

For developers, always make sure to validate, sanitize, and escape user input to prevent SQL Injection vulnerabilities. WordPress offers several built-in functions for this purpose, such as intval(), esc_sql(), and wpdb::prepare(). You can learn more about these functions in the WordPress Codex:

1. intVal(): https://developer.wordpress.org/reference/functions/intval/
2. esc_sql(): https://developer.wordpress.org/reference/functions/esc_sql/
3. wpdb::prepare(): https://developer.wordpress.org/reference/classes/wpdb/prepare/


In this article, we examined the SQL Injection vulnerability in the Image Horizontal Reel Scroll Slideshow plugin for WordPress (CVE-2023-5412) and its exploit details. Keeping your WordPress plugins updated and following secure coding practices can significantly reduce the risk of security vulnerabilities, making your website safer for you and your users.


Published on: 10/31/2023 09:15:08 UTC
Last modified on: 11/07/2023 04:23:58 UTC