October 26, 2015 By Shane Schick 2 min read

The makers of open-source content management software (CMS) Joomla have moved quickly to patch a hole that allowed cybercriminals to make SQL injection attacks that would give them full administrative access to millions of websites.

A posting on the Joomla website late last week announced version 3.4.5 of the platform, which specifically addressed the SQL injection vulnerability. It described the fix as a high priority aimed at preventing attackers from exploiting the bug, which affected Joomla 3.2 through 3.4.4.

A researcher at Trustwave SpiderLabs first discovered the issue, which essentially let third parties enter specially crafted input fields on Web pages using Joomla. This would then provide the ability to observe the behavior of a host sever. According to the blog, the potential danger was huge, given that Joomla is used by more than 2.8 million websites and owns more than 6 percent of the worldwide website CMS market.

SQL injections are not uncommon as a hacking technique, but in this case, cybercriminals would have been able to extract a cookie from a Joomla user by exposing a session ID and then loading it into another browser. Ars Technica reported that details about the code used to take advantage of the flaw had already been published to Metasploit, which is used not only by legitimate penetration testing experts, but members of the hacking community, as well.

Logging in as the administrator of a Joomla website would mean cybercriminals could do almost anything they wanted, Digital Journal observed, including block content, push out malware, delete pages on a site or even worse. Unlike some SQL injection attacks, the vulnerability on Joomla wasn’t necessarily that difficult or time-consuming to execute, which is why the release of the updated version will be so important to a number of website owners.

As Softpedia pointed out, Joomla’s SQL injection issue isn’t the only example of flaws opening up major risks within the CMS space. Just a few hours before the Joomla problem was discovered, makers of a similar open-source tool, Drupal, released an upgrade to deal with an open redirect vulnerability. No matter what you use to publish and manage Web content, staying current has never been more important.

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