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Home » Hacking News » iDEFENSE Security Advisory 10.31.02c: PHP-Nuke SQL Injection Vulnerability

iDEFENSE Security Advisory 10.31.02c: PHP-Nuke SQL Injection Vulnerability

by Nikola Strahija on November 2nd, 2002 "PHP-Nuke is a news automated system specially designed to be used in Intranets and Internet. The Administrator has total control of his web site, registered users, and he will have in the hand a powerful assembly of tools to maintain an active and 100% interactive web site using databases." More information is available at


PHP-Nuke is susceptible to an SQL injection attack that allows an
attacker to modify a user's table to his or her liking. It is
possible for any registered user of the target system to launch this
attack by feeding certain unfiltered characters to the account
manager module. The attacker can target a specific user or all system
users at once. The key is the ability to insert a backslash into the
"bio" field, thereby escaping a quote and leaving the SQL query open
for injection. The following example will modify every PHP-Nuke users
password to "1.":

Exploitation requires that the attacker log on, enter the account
manager and determine his or her UID through the source of the page.
If the attacker's UID is 2, he or she can then launch the attack by
requesting the following URL:


The injected query is constructed as follows:

UPDATE nuke_users
SET name = '',
email = '',
femail = '',
url = 'http://',
pass = 'xxxxx',
+--[ bio = '',
| user_avatar = '',
| user_icq = '',
| user_occ = '',
| user_from = '',
| user_intrest = '',
| user_sig = '',
| user_aim = '',
| user_yim = '',
| user_msnm = '',
+--[ newsletter = ',
bio=0,pass=md5(1)/*' WHERE uid='2'

The marked area is all treated as a value to store into bio. The
"where" clause is commented out, leaving an update statement that
updates the entire table (ie: all users) to having a password of


Exploitation allows an attacker to compromise any other system
account, thereby gaining the privileges and identification of the
compromised account. The attacker can also corrupt the entire user's
table, effectively denying service to legitimate users.


iDEFENSE Labs successfully tested and exploited this vulnerability in
PHP-Nuke 5.6, Unix version. As the described exploit is dangerous in
nature, administrators should not test in a production environment.


The author, Francisco Burzi, responded:

"PHP-Nuke version 6.0 is not vulnerable to the SQL injection

Latest version is 6.0 and 6.5 under development. Old versions doesn't
have support of any kind, all bugs and security fixes apply in the
new versions. So, the solution to this security hole is to update the
software from 5.6 to 6.0 version."


The Mitre Corp.'s Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) Project
has assigned the identification number CAN-2002-1242 to this issue.


09/17/2002 Issue disclosed to iDEFENSE
09/23/2002 Author notified through submission form
09/23/2002 iDEFENSE clients notified
10/01/2002 iDEFENSE second attempt at PHP-Nuke contact
10/20/2002 iDEFENSE third attempt at PHP-Nuke contact
10/31/2002 Response from Francisco Burzi
([email protected])
10/31/2002 Coordinated Public Disclosure


kill9 ([email protected]) is credited with discovering this

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iDEFENSE is a global security intelligence company that proactively
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vulnerabilities and hacker profiling to the global spread of viruses
and other malicious code. Our security intelligence services provide
decision-makers, frontline security professionals and network
administrators with timely access to actionable intelligence
and decision support on cyber-related threats. For more information,

- -dave

David Endler, CISSP
Director, Technical Intelligence
14151 Newbrook Drive
Suite 100
Chantilly, VA 20151
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fax: 703-961-1071

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