Security Advisory – VirtueMart for Joomla!

Advisory for: VirtueMart for Joomla!
Security Risk: High
Exploitation level: Easy/Remote
Vulnerability: Access control bypass / Increase of Privilege

If you’re using the popular VirtueMart Joomla! extension (more than 3,500,000 downloads), you should update it right away. During a routine audit for our WAF (Website Firewall) we found a critical vulnerability that could be used by a malicious user to easily gain Super-Admin privileges on your website. With super-admin access, the attacker has full control of the site and database.

The bug was discovered and disclosed last week and immediately patched by the VirtueMart team (in record time). They also released the update 2.6.8c to fix this issue.

What are the risks?

Any Joomla! based website running the VirtueMart version <2.6.8c and allowing user registration (default mode for VirtueMart – since it is a online shopping card for Joomla), are at risk of a total website takeover. A successful exploit would allow an attacker to essentially become a Super-Administrator and do anything he wants, from uploading backdoors on your server to running spam campaigns.

If you use an affected version of this extension, please update it as soon as possible! Note that sites using our CloudProxy Website firewall are already protected against this threat.

Technical details

VirtueMart uses Joomla’s JUser class “bind” and “save” methods to handle user accounts information. That’s not a problem on itself, but this class is very tricky and easy to make mistakes with it.

Basically, the “bind” method roughly does the same thing as PHP’s “array_merge” function, except for a few points such as live password encryption and the fact it operates on a class rather than an array.


In the above code snippet, you can see that the extension pass the $data variable (which, at this point in execution, contains the whole $_POST array) directly to the bind() call. While it is an effective way to save/modify user informations, not whitelisting what parameters should be modified is a very bad idea. It basically allows anybody to modify every single variables within JUser’s class scope!

Using this dangerous behaviour, an attacker could modify JUser’s $isRoot, $groups and $_authGroups variables to add his account to the Super-Administrator group, thus giving him full privileges over the target website.

Upgrade VirtueMart as soon as possible!

This is a serious vulnerability and the VirtueMart team did their part by releasing a patch right away. Now do your part and update any site using it. Needless to say that all our CloudProxy customers are already protected from this threat.

Read more: Security Advisory – VirtueMart for Joomla!

Story added 10. September 2014, content source with full text you can find at link above.