Multiple vulnerabilities in Sosci Survey

SEC Consult Vulnerability Lab Security Advisory < 20130417-0 >


title: Multiple vulnerabilities in Sosci Survey

product: Sosci Survey

vulnerable version: <2.3.04a

fixed version: 2.3.04a

impact: Critical


found: 2012-06-18

by: T. Lazauninkas, V. Paulikas

SEC Consult Vulnerability Lab



Vendor description:


SoSci Survey provides a non-comercial survey service, letting anyone to create and

share surveys for collecting data in a purpose of scientific research. It is a

flexible and efficient tool as it lets you to create a very customizable survey,

including active content (javascript) and PHP code.



Vulnerability overview/description:


1) Authorization Issues

The web application fails to validate authorization for

certain requests. This allows unauthorized users to access private messages

that belong to other users.


2) Cross-Site Scripting

The web application is prone to persistent and reflected Cross-Site Scripting

attacks. The vulnerability can be used to include HTML or JavaScript

code to the affected web page. The code is executed in the browser of

users if they visit the manipulated site. The vulnerability can be used

to change the contents of the displayed site, redirect to other sites

or steal user credentials. Additionally, Portal users are potential

victims of browser exploits and JavaScript Trojans.


3) Remote command execution

Due to insufficient input validation, the web application fails to properly

filter dangerous PHP code passed from the user side. This leads to OS command

execution with the privileges of the web server. By exploiting this

vulnerability, an attacker can read/write files, open connections, etc. posing

a critical security risk.



Proof of concept:



1) In the user profile, users are able to send and receive private messages to

each other. This also includes the administrative users. By modifying one of the

vulnerable script's parameters an attacker can read the messages of other users.

A proof of concept is provided below:




By iterating between the integer parameter's id value, an attacker is able to exploit

this vulnerability.


2) If an invalid id value is passed to the receiver.edit module, which is handled by

the index.php script, its contents is reflected to the user without proper filtering.

This leads to javascript execution in the web browser. This issue can be easily exploited

by navigating to the folowing URL:




An alert with the user's session cookie will be shown.


Persistent Cross-Site scripting was identified in the private messaging module. It was

discovered, that [subject, title, firstName, surname, content] parameters are

vulnerable to persistent Cross-Site scripting as they are saved and later shown

without proper filtering. A sample request is provided below:


 POST /admin/index.php HTTP/1.1

   Many parameters are vulnerable to reflected Cross-Site Scripting vulnerabilities:
            Referer (header)


3) When creating a new survey it is possible to include PHP code. Despite that the web

application is filtering most of the dangerous PHP functions, that would allow to execute OS

commands, it is still possible to execute arbitrary commands by using the provided code below:


print `id`;


The above code, when executed, prints out the system id of the current user. This could be further

exploited by an attacker for accessing the local file system, creating malicious files, opening

remote conections, etc.



Vulnerable / tested versions:


Pre-installed version of SoSci Survey, hosted on domain, was

tested. It was not possible to determine an exact version of the installed software.



Vendor contact timeline:


2013-01-29: Contacted vendor through

2013-01-29: Initial vendor response - issues will be verified

2013-03-29: Status request sent

2013-03-29: Vendor response: Security update 2.3.04a is available

2013-04-17: SEC Consult releases coordinated security advisory





Update to version 2.3.04a.







Advisory URL:





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Mooslackengasse 17

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Tel.: +43 / 1 / 890 30 43 - 0

Fax.: +43 / 1 / 890 30 43 - 25

Mail: research at sec-consult dot com


EOF T. Lazauninkas, V. Paulikas / @2013