UpdraftPlus WordPress plugin update forced for million sites

by chebbi abir

WordPress forces the update of the UpdraftPlus plugin patch on 3 million sites to fix a high-severity vulnerability.

WordPress has forced the update of the UpdraftPlus plugin around three million sites to address a high-severity vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2022-0633 (CVSS v3.1 score of 8.5) that can allow website subscribers to download the latest database backups, which could potentially contain sensitive data.


“The UpdraftPlus WordPress plugin Free before 1.22.3 and Premium before 2.22.3 do not properly validate a user has the required privileges to access a backup’s nonce identifier, which may allow any users with an account on the site (such as subscriber) to download the most recent site & database backup.” reads the advisory for this issue.

The flaw was discovered Marc Montpas during an internal audit of the plugin.

“The plugin uses custom “nonces” and timestamps to securely identify backups. Given the knowledge of said nonce and timestamp can give someone access to quite a few of the plugin’s features, making sure this info is only accessible to those who legitimately need it is crucial.” reported the analysis. “Unfortunately, as we’ll demonstrate, it wasn’t the case.”

The issue impacts versions 1.16.7 to 1.22.2 of the plugin, the development team addressed it with the release of 1.22.3 or 2.22.3 for the (paid) Premium version.

The plugin allows users to easily perform manual or scheduled backups, it allows to restore backups directly from the WordPress control panel.The issue is an improper user validation bug that can allow low-level authenticated users to craft a valid link that would allow them to download the files.

The attack chain starts by sending a heartbeat request containing a data parameter to obtain information about the site’s latest backup to date.

“An attacker could thus craft a malicious request targeting this heartbeat callback to get access to information about the site’s latest backup to date, which will among other things contain a backup’s nonce.” continues the report.

This info could allow attackers to receive the backup via mail by manipulating the request.

“Unfortunately, the UpdraftPlus_Admin::maybe_download_backup_from_email method, which is hooked to admin_init didn’t directly validate users’ roles either.” continues the analysis. “While it did apply some checks indirectly, such as checking the $pagenow global variable, past research has shown that this variable can contain arbitrary user input. Bad actors could use this endpoint to download file & database backups based on the information they leaked from the aforementioned heartbeat bug.”

Below is the timeline for this flaw:

2022-02-14 – Initial contact with UpdraftPlus
2022-02-15 – We send them details about this vulnerability
2022-02-16 – UpdraftPlus 1.22.3 is released, forced auto-updates launched

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