Security Flaws Found in Popular Open Source Projects

Matt O'Conner
RESTON, Va. – Security holes in two popular open source projects could put users at risk of cross-site scripting attacks and information theft, researchers warned.

The phpMyAdmin Project has confirmed that vulnerabilities in its application can be exploited to conduct cross-site scripting attacks and disclose sensitive information. First identified by research firm Secunia, the flaws could lead to arbitrary program execution if PHP safe mode is off and external transformations are activated.

Written in PHP, phpMyAdmin is a popular application for managing MySQL databases over the Internet. It is used by programmers to create and drop databases as well as to execute SQL statement and manage keys on fields. The phpMyAdmin Project recommends that users upgrade to the latest version of the application to avoid malicious hacking attacks.

Meanwhile, iDefense Inc. has issued an alert concerning vulnerabilities in phpBB Group’s web forum software that could allow attackers to read the contents of arbitrary system files under the privileges of the underlying web server. The problem was created by an input validation error that allows a remote attacker to control the arguments in a call to copy, thereby uncovering the full path to system files.

phpBB is a scalable, customizable open source bulletin board package that supports popular database servers and unlimited forums and posts.

“An attacker must have, or be able to create an account on the target system,” iDefense warned. "Non-default settings must also be enabled for exploitation to be possible. Upon successful exploitation an attacker may be able to further compromise the system by gleaning system information that would otherwise be inaccessible without authorization."

In response, the phpBB Group has released an updated version of the software that fixes the vulnerabilities.

A group of international PHP experts, including one of the founders of PHP enterprise platform developer Zend Technologies, have banded together and formed a new conglomerate aimed at promoting secure programming practices.

This latest round of security flaws comes just weeks after a group of PHP developers formed the PHP Security Consortium in response to high-profile flaws found in third-party applications, which the group said hurt the credibility of PHP and the growing PHP scripting community.