[Note: The fix for this security vulnerability is omitted from the release history for BuddyPress v1.2.8]

[Note: This writeup is related to another vulnerability in Wordpress that I’ve written about.]


BuddyPress 1.2.7 and older contains a broken check for validating avatar uploads. As a result, file extension restrictions are not properly enforced (the only restrictions in effect are Wordpress’s default restrictions, which can be fairly broad). Since registered user (Subscriber level and above) can upload avatars to BuddyPress, they are also able to exploit the file upload XSS vulnerability in Wordpress that I recently wrote about.

How Did It Work?

Internally, BuddyPress’s avatar upload feature uses built-in Wordpress functionality for handling uploads. Those functions are built to allow a variety of file extensions without much validation, as I pointed out in my other report. BuddyPress has written its own set of checks; when a file is uploaded, BuddyPress attempts to verify that the file extension is valid for an image (jpeg/jpg/gif/png) and that the file’s claimed MIME-type is valid for an image.

Unfortunately, older versions of BuddyPress contain a mistake in the logic of the test. As a result, they allow uploads where only one of the two checks passes. Accordingly, a malicious attacker can send a request to a vulnerable server, uploading a file with an extension that is acceptable to Wordpress (eg: .html) and a MIME type that is acceptable to BuddyPress (image/gif). The upload will be accepted and stored on the server, where it can be used to cause a persistent XSS attack.

For the curious, this is the patch that corrects the logic of BuddyPress’s avatar validation.

So, What’s The Fix?

If you can’t upgrade to the newest version of BuddyPress, at least update your code using the aforementioned patch. For other mitigation tips, check out the Wordpress vulnerability report.