Critical Xwiki vulnerability risks RCE attacks

Xwiki, an application development platform, has a critical vulnerability that could open it up for remote code execution (RCE) attacks.

Xwiki is vulnerable to remote code execution (RCE) attacks through its user registration feature. The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2024-21650 allows an attacker to execute arbitrary code by crafting malicious payloads in the “first name” or “last name” fields during user registration.

What is XWiki?

XWiki is a second-generation wiki and an application development platform in its own right. An application is a set of pages that adds new functionality to the wiki – such as a blog or a task.

Our research team has discovered 8882 systems that could be exposed to this Remote Code Execution vulnerability. Unfortunately, the IoT search engines used in this research did not support search by versions so the scope includes any xWiki instance that has an exposed xWiki login page.

According to the Cybernews research team, attackers could leverage the vulnerability to carry out anything from ransomware attacks to spyware deployment, as the flaw would allow them to completely take over the system.

“Remote code execution is a critical vulnerability which allows remotely running any piece of code that an attacker wants the system to run, so it's a covert and highly-sensitive vulnerability that allows attackers to instantly get a foothold into the network of a vulnerable system,” researchers said.

The top 5 countries that have potentially vulnerable systems can be seen below.

XWiki list

Remote Code Execution (RCE)

Remote code execution (RCE) is a type of security vulnerability that allows an attacker to execute arbitrary code or commands on a target system from a remote location. This means that an attacker can take control of a system or server by exploiting this vulnerability without having physical access to the device.

How do RCE vulnerabilities typically work?

  • RCE vulnerabilities often occur when user inputs are not properly sanitized or validated. This can happen in web applications, network services, or any software that accepts user input.
  • An attacker finds a way to inject malicious code into the vulnerable system. This can be achieved through various means, such as injecting code into input fields, manipulating URLs, or exploiting weaknesses in the code execution process.
  • Once the malicious code is injected and the vulnerability is exploited, the attacker gains the ability to execute arbitrary commands on the target system. This can lead to complete compromise of the system, unauthorized access, data theft, or other malicious activities.
  • The impact of an RCE vulnerability can be severe. Depending on the context, it may allow an attacker to take control of a server, access sensitive data, or perform other malicious actions.

Key Takeaways

  • The vulnerability is new, CVE ID: CVE-2024-21650
  • The vulnerability has the highest severity score of 10.0, and it is a critical vulnerability
  • Affected versions: >= 2.2, < 14.10.17; >= 15.0-rc-1 < 15.5.3; >= 15.6-rc-1 < 15.8-rc-1
  • Patched versions: 14.10.17; 15.5.3; 15.8-rc-1
  • RCE vulnerabilities often play as an entry point for ransomware.

Mitigation and protection

The best way to prevent this vulnerability from being exploited is to install the released patches. Preventing RCE vulnerabilities also involves implementing secure coding practices, input validation, and proper handling of user inputs. Regular security audits, code reviews, and keeping software and systems up to date with security patches are crucial to mitigating the risk of RCE vulnerabilities.

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