WordPress Yuzo Plugin Becomes Scamming Tool

July 25, 2019
WordPress Yuzo Plugin Becomes Scamming Tool

The Yuzo Related Posts plugin, which is installed on over 60,000 websites, was removed from the WordPress.org plugin directory on March 30, 2019 after an unpatched vulnerability was publicly, and irresponsibly, disclosed by a security researcher that same day.


The vulnerability, which allows stored cross-site scripting (XSS), is now being exploited in the wild. These attacks appear to be linked to the same threat actor who targeted the recent Social Warfare and Easy WP SMTP vulnerabilities.


The XSS protection included in the firewall protects against the exploit attempts we have seen so far. Both free and Premium users are protected against these attacks. Based on a deeper analysis of the security flaws present in the plugin we have also deployed protection against additional attack vectors.


Developers often mistakenly use is_admin() to check if a piece of code that requires administrative privileges should be run, but as the WordPress documentation points out, that isn’t how the function should be used. In this scenario self: _ini_() is called on any request to an administrative interface page, including /wp-admin/options-general.php and /wp-admin/admin-post.php, which allows a POST request to those pages to be processed by self::save_options(); later in the code.


The result is that an unauthenticated attacker can inject malicious content, such as a JavaScript payload, into the plugin settings. That payload is then inserted into HTML templates and executed by the web browser when users visit the compromised website. This security issue could be used to deface websites, redirect visitors to unsafe websites, or compromise WordPress administrator accounts, among other things.


As was the case a few weeks ago, the irresponsible actions of a security researcher have resulted in a zero-day plugin vulnerability being exploited in the wild. Cases like this underscore the importance of a layered security approach which includes a WordPress firewall.


Vulnerabilities in WordPress plugin has been a long-standing problem. “The plug-in directory is very much like the Google Play store where vetting of apps is a major weakness. Lack of notifications by the plug-in developer is also an issue to contend with. It is recommended that WordPress users either automatically update the platform and their apps or pay close attention to the ones they use and how they behave and keep an eye out for vulnerabilities.


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