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Security Alert: Code injection vulnerability in MAKETEXT macro

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This advisory alerts you of a potential security issue with your Foswiki installation. A vulnerability has been reported against the core Perl module CPAN:Locale::Maketext, which Foswiki uses to provide translations when {UserInterfaceInternationalization} is enabled in the configuration. Because of this vulnerability it may be possible for a user to invoke arbitrary perl modules on the server through a crafted macro.

The original fix for this issue reported in SecurityAlert-CVE-2012-6329 failed to eliminate one possible attack vector. This CVE applies an additional fix for the original issue.

The system is not vulnerable if {UserInerfaceInternationalization} is not enabled in your configuration, or if Locale::Maketext has been upgraded to version 1.23 as advised in SecurityAlert-CVE-2012-6329.

Severity Level

Severity 1 issue: The web server can be compromised

The severity level was assigned by the Foswiki SecurityTaskTeam as documented in SecurityAlertProcess

MITRE Name for this Vulnerability

The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures project has assigned the name CVE-2013-1666 to this vulnerability.

Vulnerable Software Versions

Fixed in Foswiki 1.1.8

Attack Vectors

Editing wiki pages and HTTP POST requests towards a Foswiki server with enabled localization (typically port 80/TCP). Typically, prior authentication is necessary. If your wiki allows commenting by users without first logging in, then it may be possible for such an anonymous user to exploit this vulnerability.

The original report ( SecurityAlert-CVE-2012-6329) against Locale::Maketext also identified another vector, where a module name can be passed in to Maketext through the bracket notation. At the time we determined that Foswiki was not vulnerable to this vector, as Foswiki does not permit that syntax to be used. This was incorrect. It is possible to pass bypass the checks by double-escaping the brackets.


Arbitrary code execution on the server as the webserver user.


A crafted %MAKETEXT{}% macro can cause multiple issues: This CVE addresses an additional vector:
  • NEW Execute arbitrary perl modules by escaping brackets within MAKETEXT ~~[Some::Module,~~] (CVE-2013-1666)
  • Execute arbitrary code on the server by passing unsanitized strings to Locale::Maketext. (CVE-2012-6329)
  • Consume memory and swap space resulting in potential lockup or crash due to %MAKETEXT{}% not validating the parameter numbers supplied in the [_nnn] tokens. (CVE-2012-6330)
  • Cause an exception within Foswiki, also due to invalid parameters in [_nnn] tokens


Apply one of these countermeasures:
  • Apply hotfix (see patch below).
  • Install PatchItem12391Contrib
  • Disable {UserInerfaceInternationalization} in your !LocalSite.cfg
  • Upgrade to Foswiki-1.1.8 once available.
In addition to the above, Locale::Maketext should be upgraded to version 1.23.

You can verify that the patches are successful by using the following two lines in a test topic:
   * If a warning about MAKETEXT Rejected is displayed here, your system is patched for Item12285:  %MAKETEXT{"[_101]"}%
   * If ==[quant,4,singular,plural]== is displayed at the end of this line, your system is patched for Item12391: <b><tt>%MAKETEXT{" ~~[quant,4,singular,plural~~] "}%</tt></b>

Note: If the 2nd line displays ~[quant,4,singular,plural~] (shows the ~ character) then your system is not patched, but is not vulnerable because Internationalization is disabled.

Authors and Credits

  • John Lightsey for disclosing the issue to the foswiki-security list.
  • CrawfordCurrie, PaulHarvey and GeorgeClark for contributing to the fix, the 1.1.8 release and advisory.
  • Members of the Foswiki security team for discussions and for editing this security advice.

Hotfix for Foswiki Production Release 1.1.0-1.1.7

The line numbers may vary between releases, but the two regular expressions should be changed as shown below:

--- lib/Foswiki/Macros/MAKETEXT.pm  2013-02-13 10:26:42.520780283 -0500
+++ lib/Foswiki/Macros/MAKETEXT.pm  2013-02-13 10:26:51.362682708 -0500
@@ -25,8 +25,8 @@
     $str =~ s/\]/~]/g;

     # restore already escaped stuff:
-    $str =~ s/~~\[/~[/g;
-    $str =~ s/~~\]/~]/g;
+    $str =~ s/~~+\[/~[/g;
+    $str =~ s/~~+\]/~]/g;

     $max         = 0;
     $min         = 1;

Hotfix for Foswiki Production Release 1.0.0-1.0.10

Apply the above patch to Foswiki.pm, in the vicinity of line 4193

Action Plan with Timeline

  • 2013-02-12 - User discloses issue to foswiki security mailing list (John Lightsey)
  • 2013-02-13 - Developer verifies issue (George Clark)
  • 2013-02-13 - Security team triage the issue (George Clark, Crawford Currie, Paul Harvey)
  • 2013-02-13 - Developer fixes code (George Clark)
  • 2013-02-14 - Security team creates advisory with hotfix (George Clark)
  • 2013-xx-xx - Release Manager builds patch release (name)
  • 2013-02-14 - Send alert to foswiki-announce and foswiki-discuss mailing lists (George Clark)
  • 2013-02-19 - Publish advisory in Support web and update all related topics (George Clark)
  • 2013-02-19 - Reference to public advisory on Download page and Known Issues (George Clark)
  • 2013-02-19 - Issue a public security advisory (vuln@secunia.com, cert@cert.org, bugs@securitytracker.com bugtraq@securityfocus.com full-disclosure@lists.grok.org.uk) (George Clark)

Topic revision: r6 - 01 Mar 2013, GeorgeClark
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