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LimeSurvey 3.17.13 Cross Site Scripting

LimeSurvey 3.17.13 Cross Site Scripting
Posted Sep 12, 2019
Authored by Andreas Kolbeck, David Haintz | Site sec-consult.com

LimeSurvey versions 3.17.13 and below suffer from reflective and persistent cross site scripting vulnerabilities.

tags | exploit, vulnerability, xss
advisories | CVE-2019-16172, CVE-2019-16173
MD5 | ba9b989f3aca0493fcaa3aac94490b26

LimeSurvey 3.17.13 Cross Site Scripting

Change Mirror Download
SEC Consult Vulnerability Lab Security Advisory < 20190912-0 >
title: Stored and reflected XSS vulnerabilities
product: LimeSurvey
vulnerable version: <= 3.17.13
fixed version: =>3.17.14
CVE number: CVE-2019-16172, CVE-2019-16173
impact: medium
homepage: https://www.limesurvey.org/
found: 2019-08-23
by: Andreas Kolbeck (Office Munich)
David Haintz (Office Vienna)
SEC Consult Vulnerability Lab

An integrated part of SEC Consult
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Vendor description:
"LimeSurvey is the tool to use for your online surveys. Whether you are
conducting simple questionnaires with just a couple of questions or advanced
assessments with conditionals and quota management, LimeSurvey has got you
covered. LimeSurvey is 100% open source and will always be transparently developed.
We can help you reach your goals."

Source: https://www.limesurvey.org/

Business recommendation:
LimeSurvey suffered from a vulnerability due to improper input
and output validation. By exploiting this vulnerability an attacker could:
1. Attack other users of the web application with JavaScript code,
browser exploits or Trojan horses, or
2. perform unauthorized actions in the name of another logged-in user.

The vendor provides a patch which should be installed immediately.
Furthermore, a thorough security analysis is highly recommended as only a
short spot check has been performed and additional issues are to be expected.

Vulnerability overview/description:
1) Stored and reflected XSS vulnerabilities
LimeSurvey suffers from a stored and reflected cross-site scripting vulnerability,
which allows an attacker to execute JavaScript code with the permissions of the victim.
In this way it is possible to escalate privileges from a low-privileged account e.g.
to "SuperAdmin".

Proof of concept:
1) Stored and reflected XSS vulnerabilities
Example 1 - Stored XSS (CVE-2019-16172):
The attacker needs the appropriate permissions in order to create new survey groups.
Then create a survey group with a JavaScript payload in the title, for example:


When the survey group is being deleted, e.g. by an administrative user, the JavaScript
code will be executed as part of the "success" message.

Example 2 - Reflected XSS (CVE-2019-16173):
The following proof of concept prints the current CSRF token cookie which contains the
CSRF token. The parameter "surveyid" is not filtered properly:


If the URL schema is configured differently the following payload works:

Vulnerable / tested versions:
The vulnerabilities have been verified to exist in version 3.17.9 and the latest
version 3.17.13. It is assumed that older versions are affected as well.

Vendor contact timeline:
2019-08-29: Contacting vendor through https://bugs.limesurvey.org/view.php?id=15204
2019-09-02: Fixes available:
2019-09-02: Release of LimeSurvey v3.17.14 which fixes the security issues
2019-09-03: Release of LimeSurvey v3.17.15 bug fix
2019-09-12: Coordinated release of security advisory

Update to version 3.17.15 or higher:

The vendor provides a detailed list of changes here:

No workaround available.

Advisory URL:


SEC Consult Vulnerability Lab

SEC Consult
Europe | Asia | North America

About SEC Consult Vulnerability Lab
The SEC Consult Vulnerability Lab is an integrated part of SEC Consult. It
ensures the continued knowledge gain of SEC Consult in the field of network
and application security to stay ahead of the attacker. The SEC Consult
Vulnerability Lab supports high-quality penetration testing and the evaluation
of new offensive and defensive technologies for our customers. Hence our
customers obtain the most current information about vulnerabilities and valid
recommendation about the risk profile of new technologies.

Interested to work with the experts of SEC Consult?
Send us your application https://www.sec-consult.com/en/career/index.html

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Mail: research at sec-consult dot com
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EOF A. Kolbeck / @2019

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