A highly critical flaw in the Drupal content management system (CMS) could allow attackers to take over sites and web servers, developers behind the open-source project warned.

In a security advisory that urged users to update their software, Drupal developers said the flaw (CVE-2019-6340) could facilitate remote code execution (RCE) attacks. The problem stems from files that are not properly sanitizing RESTful web services and other nonform sources. According to the advisory, users at risk of RCE attacks include those running Drupal 8.6x and 8.5x and earlier.

How to Protect Yourself From the Drupal Vulnerability

The advisory made no mention of the flaw being exploited in the wild so far, and since it was discovered by developers on the project team, there may be enough time for most users to protect themselves.

Admins can reduce the risk by disabling the Drupal 8 core RESTful Web Services (rest) module and configuring web servers not to allow PATCH or POST requests. Other web services that should be shut down include the JSON:API and Service module in Drupal 8 and RESTful Web Services module in version 7.

Next, admins should update to the most recent branches of the open-source CMS’s core, which include Drupal 8.6.10 and 8.5.11.

Finally, since the flaw could impact third-party projects associated with the CMS, admins should consider installing security updates for these as well. A list of possibilities linked within the advisory include Font Awesome Icons, Translation Management Tool, Metatag, Paragraphs, JASON:API and RESTful Web Services. This should be done even if users are running Drupal 7, the developers warned.

Why CMS Security Is Critical

Even if no one has exploited this Drupal vulnerability yet, there’s already evidence vulnerabilities of this type can pose serious security risks to all kinds of organizations.

A few months ago, for example, IBM’s Managed Security Services (MSS) team discovered a series of attacks against Drupal users that leveraged Shellbot to open backdoors and compromise sites en masse. Much like WordPress, the open-source CMS represents a valuable target for cybercriminals because it is so commonly used across a wide range of private- and public-sector organizations.

Beyond installing patches and updates, IBM experts suggest conducting validation checks on all web applications and using two-factor authentication (2FA) to fend off automated brute-force attacks.

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