Security researchers identified a privilege escalation vulnerability the previous week in a popular user registration and account management plugin in WordPress Content Management System. The flaw tracked with the identifier CVE-2023-3460 enables the malicious actors to create users with admin privileges on the WordPress websites which are running the vulnerable versions of the Ultimate Member WordPress Plugin. This could lead to severe consequences like the complete takeover or compromise of the WordPress website. Considering its consequences and the ease of exploitability, the flaw has been given a CVSS score of 9.8 out of 10. We recommend all website owners who use the Ultimate Member plugin on their WordPress should immoderately fix the CVE-2023-3460 vulnerability. We published this post as we could see the plugin installed on more than 2,00,000 websites that are prone to attack.
In this article, we will provide a step-by-step guide on how to fix CVE-2023-3460, a privilege escalation vulnerability in Ultimate Member WordPress plugin. We will cover the necessary steps to update the plugin to the latest version, as well as additional measures that can be taken to secure the website against potential attacks. By following these steps, website administrators can ensure that their website is protected against this vulnerability and maintain the security of their users’ data.
A Short Note About the Ultimate Member WordPress Plugin
Ultimate Member is a popular WordPress plugin that provides a comprehensive solution for creating user profiles, membership sites, and online communities. It has over 100,000 active installations and is widely used by website owners and developers.
The plugin offers a variety of features, including customizable user profiles, member directories, user registration forms, login forms, and more. It is highly customizable and can be extended with various add-ons and integrations. Please visit the official site for more details.
- User Profiles: With Ultimate Member, you can customize user profiles and allow users to edit their own profiles. This feature supports the inclusion of custom fields and also includes privacy settings.
- Registration and Login: Ultimate Member provides custom registration and login forms. You can create unique forms for different types of users and decide what information to collect during the registration process.
- User Roles: The plugin allows you to create and manage different user roles. You can set specific permissions and access levels for each role.
- Member Directories: Ultimate Member offers the option to create dynamic member directories. These can be customized according to your requirements and can include search and filter options.
- Content Restriction: You can restrict certain content on your site to specific user roles or membership levels, thereby enhancing the exclusivity of your site’s content.
- Email Notifications: Ultimate Member allows you to send automatic email notifications for various events such as new user registration, password reset, and more.
- Extensions and Integration: The plugin comes with a number of premium extensions which can be used to integrate with other services such as MailChimp, WooCommerce, and bbPress, as well as add additional functionality like social login, private messaging, and user reviews.
Summary of the CVE-2023-3460 Vulnerability
The CVE-2023-3460 vulnerability is a privilege escalation flaw found in the Ultimate Member WordPress plugin. This vulnerability allows an attacker to elevate their privileges to that of an administrator, giving them complete control over the website.
To understand how this privilege escalation vulnerability works, you should know the role of the WP_Capabilities function in WordPress. WP_Capabilities is a core WordPress function used to manage user roles and permissions. It allows administrators to define specific capabilities for each user role, such as the ability to edit posts, delete comments, or manage users.
However, if this function is not used correctly, it can lead to privilege escalation vulnerabilities like CVE-2023-3460. In the case of the Ultimate Member plugin, the flaw allows an attacker to bypass the WP_Capabilities check and gain administrator-level access to the website.
CVE ID: CVE-2023-3460
CVSS Score: 9.8 (Critical)
CVSS Vector: CVSS:3.1/AV:N/AC:L/PR:N/UI:N/S:U/C:H/I:H/A:H
Researcher/s: Unknown, Marc-Alexandre Montpas
Description: A Privilege Escalation in Ultimate Member WordPress Plugin via Arbitrary User Meta Updates
The vulnerability tracked with the identifier CVE-2023-3460 can be exploited by both unauthenticated and authenticated attackers to gain complete control of the website. Attackers further abuse this vulnerability to perform a wide range of malicious actions, including stealing sensitive data, injecting malware, or defacing the website. It is essential for website owners to fix the CVE-2023-3460 vulnerability as soon as possible.
How Could the Flaw be Exploitable?
Attackers can compromise these websites just by sending a POST request. Here you see the breakdown of the exploitation process:
- Initial POST Request: The attacker initiates the attack by making an initial POST request to the user registration page of the plugin. In most cases, this page is located at “/register.” By targeting this specific endpoint, the attacker aims to exploit any weaknesses or loopholes present in the registration process.
- Login Attempt: After successfully creating a new account through the registration page, the attacker proceeds to log in using the standard “/wp-login.php” page. By entering the newly created credentials, the attacker tries to gain unauthorized access to the targeted WordPress site.
- Malicious Plugin Upload: In the final stage of the attack, the attacker leverages the gained access to upload a malicious plugin through the site’s administration panel. This step allows them to execute malicious code and potentially compromise the security and integrity of the WordPress site.
That’s it. Understanding these attack patterns can help website administrators and developers take proactive measures to protect their sites.
Ultimate Member Versions Vulnerable to CVE-2023-3460
According to the advisory, The privilege escalation vulnerability, identified as CVE-2023-3460, affects the Ultimate Member WordPress plugin, specifically those versions up to and including 2.6.6. This popular plugin is installed on more than 2,00,000 WordPress websites, and the vulnerability is widely being exploited in the wild Its ease of exploitability nature and implications carries a significant security risk to users and site administrators alike.
How to Fix CVE-2023-3460- A Privilege Escalation Vulnerability in Ultimate Member WordPress Plugin?
Moderators of the Ultimate Member plugin have responded to the vulnerability by releasing the patch. Users of the Ultimate Member plugin are advised to update to version 2.6.7 as soon as possible to patch this vulnerability. The latest version of the plugin includes a fix for this vulnerability and several other security issues.
If you are unable to update to the latest version of the plugin, you can mitigate the risk of exploitation by restricting access to the plugin’s user metadata. This can be done by disabling the “Edit User Meta” feature in the plugin’s settings.
Updating the Plugin
The first step to fixing the CVE-2023-3460 vulnerability in the Ultimate Member WordPress plugin is to update the plugin to the latest version. The developers of the plugin have released a patch that fixes the vulnerability, so it is important to ensure that the latest version of the plugin is installed.
To update the plugin, follow these steps:
- Log in to your WordPress dashboard.
- Navigate to the ‘Plugins’ section.
- Find the Ultimate Member plugin and click the ‘Update Now button.
Once the update is complete, the vulnerability should be fixed, and the website should be secure.
Additional Security Guidelines to Follow
implement these additional security measures as part of your security strategy to secure your website and protect your users from becoming the victim of such cyber attacks.
- Review and Delete Unknown Administrator Accounts: Take the time to thoroughly review all site administrators and delete any accounts that are unfamiliar or suspicious. By doing so, you can eliminate any potential unauthorized access points created by attackers.
- Reset All User Passwords: As a precautionary measure, we strongly recommend resetting all user passwords, including your own admin account password. This can be done through the password reset mechanism on your site. By requiring users to set a new password, you ensure that their accounts are protected with fresh credentials.
- Install and Activate Security Plugins: Installing reputable security plugins such as WPScan or WordFence can greatly enhance your site’s ability to detect and prevent suspicious activities. These plugins offer additional layers of protection and help safeguard your website from potential threats. Consider utilizing them to bolster your site’s security.
- Implement SSL Protection: Ensure that your site operates on SSL certificates. SSL certificates encrypt the data transmitted between your website and its users, providing a secure communication channel. Reach out to your hosting provider for assistance in setting up SSL on your server.
- Perform Daily Site Files and Database Backups: Regularly creating backups of your site is an essential best practice. In the event of any unforeseen incidents or security breaches, having up-to-date backups allows you to restore your site to a stable state. Consider implementing a reliable backup solution and establish a daily backup routine.
- Notify Your Site Members/Customers: It is crucial to communicate the incident to your site members or customers. Send out advisories informing them about the situation and provide clear instructions on how to reset their passwords on your site. Emphasize the importance of choosing a unique password and avoiding reusing their old password to ensure their accounts’ security.
By following these steps, users can effectively address the CVE-2023-3460 vulnerability and better protect their WordPress websites against privilege escalation attacks. Always remember that staying vigilant and proactive in maintaining website security is vital to keep your website safe from potential threats.