Rank Math WordPress SEO Plugin Vulnerability Affects +2 Million Sites  

In a discouraging turn of events for the WordPress community, security researchers have come up with a security advisory about a critical vulnerability in the widely used Rank Math SEO Plugin. This cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability can potentially affect more than 2 million websites that are using the plugin if it gets exploited.

Rank Math, a prominent SEO plugin for WordPress, is used by more than 2 million active installations. The plugin has all the necessary features in place, which are the keyword tracking, Schema.org integration, Google Search Console and Analytics connectivity, and the redirect manager, among others. Its modular design and resource-efficient footprint are its most preferable traits compared to other popular SEO plugins like Yoast.

However, the new flaw poses an enormous threat to those sites that have Rank Math installed. The advisory by Wordfence, a top WordPress security provider, states that the exploitation of an authenticated stored cross-site scripting vulnerability makes it possible for attackers to execute malicious scripts and attack compromised sites.

The Root Cause: Lack of Input Sanitization and Output Escaping

The major weakness of this vulnerability lies in the fact that the plugin lacks proper input sanitization and output escaping in its codebase. These are very frequent problems which are the main reasons for XSS vulnerabilities, especially in the place where user data or input is processed.

Inappropriate input sanitization means that the user supplied data is not properly filtered or validated, which in turn opens the possibility of a malicious script or code being injected. In this case, the inability to output escaping also creates a loophole that allows malicious scripts to bypass the browser and reach the user.

Critical Threats to Website Security and User Data.

Successful misutilization of this stored XSS vulnerability can be catastrophic for users. Attackers can potentially inject malicious scripts that will run every time a user gains access to an affected page. This might result in cookie theft, unauthorized access to websites, and potentially the exposure of confidential information.

Wordfence’s advisory emphasizes the severity of the issue, stating: “This makes it possible for authenticated attackers, with contributor-level access and above, to inject arbitrary web scripts in pages that will execute whenever a user accesses an injected page.”

Prompt Action Required: Urgently Update to Rank Math 1.0.215

Recognizing the urgency of the situation, Rank Math has promptly released an update (version 1.0.215) that addresses the vulnerability. The changelog from them clearly states the issue and thanks Wordfence for responsibly disclosing the vulnerability, advising the users to update as soon as possible.

The website owners and administrators running Rank Math SEO plugin should upgrade to the latest version immediately in order to eliminate the threat of any possible attacks. Not doing this update leaves their websites and users open to malicious cyber actors who may want to take advantage of this vulnerability.