Automattic, the company that supervises WordPress and WooCommerce development, has patched a persistent XSS (cross-site scripting) vulnerability in the WooCommerce e-commerce plugin for WordPress.

This bugfix is crucial because it has the potential of affecting over one million WordPress-powered stores, according to the most recent statistics from the WP Plugin Directory.

Cengiz Han Sahin, security researcher for Storify, a Dutch security company, has discovered the vulnerability as part of the Summer of Pwnage event, that’s taking place in Amsterdam for the month of July.

Summer of Pwnage is a unique event that gathers security researchers from across the globe, and this year, they have set their sights on discovering and reporting security bugs in the WordPress platform.

Malicious images deliver the XSS payload

According to a technical explanation, the vulnerability resides in the fact that WooCoomerce pulls metadata from uploaded images and uses it as the title and description fields showed as captions near images on the store’s frontend.

Since anyone is free to edit a picture’s metadata, an attacker only has to enter an XSS payload in the metadata fields and social engineer his way into tricking a store admin into using the malicious image for his product’s main image or as part of the product image gallery.

When WooCommerce displays the image, either in the backend store admin panel, or on the site, the malicious payload executes and carries out the desired attack.

Since XSS issues are the perfect entryways for launching all sort of attacks on online applications, an attacker only needs the appropriate payload to steal cookies or CSRF tokens in order to take over admin accounts and indirectly the site.

Sahin said that they only tested WooCommerce version 2.6.2 against this vulnerability and that the WooCommerce team put out version 2.6.3 to fix the problem.

WordPress is not affected, despite the presence of a similar function

Because WordPress also uses metadata content to fill in image titles and descriptions for the pictures uploaded and embedded on your site, Softpedia has reached out to the researcher and inquired if the WordPress core needs patching as well.

“They [WordPress core devs] use the same type of sanitization but Woo introduces the XSS bug by performing double encoding,” Sahin told Softpedia today.

Summer of Pwnage is not over, so stay tuned for more security bugs. Previously, security engineers, part of this same event, have discovered a similar persistent XSS issue in today’s most popular WordPress plugin, All in One SEO.

Below is an image showing how an attacker could edit an image’s metadata to add his malicious payload.

Image metadata field carrying a malicious exploit

Image metadata field carrying a malicious exploit

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