In the realm of WordPress plugins, security is paramount. With millions of websites relying on these plugins to enhance functionality and user experience, any vulnerability can have widespread and severe implications. One such critical vulnerability has been identified in the “System Dashboard” plugin, designated as CVE-2023-7246. This vulnerability leverages Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) via Header Injection, potentially allowing attackers to gain administrator access and wreak havoc on affected websites. In this article, we will delve into the discovery, mechanics, exploitation, risks, and recommended security measures associated with this vulnerability.

PluginSystem Dashboard < 2.8.10
All Time11 500
Active installations1 000+
Publicly PublishedFebruary 28, 2023
Last UpdatedFebruary 28, 2023
ResearcherDmtirii Ignatyev
OWASP TOP-10A7: Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)
Plugin Security Certification by CleanTalk
Logo of the plugin


October 19, 2023Plugin testing and vulnerability detection in the System Dashboard have been completed
October 19, 2023I contacted the author of the plugin and provided a vulnerability PoC with a description and recommendations for fixing
February 28, 2023Registered CVE-2023-7246

Discovery of the Vulnerability

The CVE-2023-7246 vulnerability was uncovered during a routine security assessment of the “System Dashboard” WordPress plugin. The vulnerability specifically involves the manipulation of the X-Forwarded-For HTTP header. During the testing phase, security researchers found that by injecting malicious scripts into this header, they could trigger a Stored XSS vulnerability. The implications of this discovery are significant, as it allows malicious actors to execute arbitrary JavaScript code on behalf of an admin user. This can lead to severe consequences, including the creation of new users with administrator privileges.

Understanding of Stored XSS attack’s

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) is a prevalent vulnerability in web applications, including WordPress plugins. XSS occurs when an attacker injects malicious scripts into content that is subsequently rendered and executed by a victim’s browser. In WordPress, XSS vulnerabilities can manifest in various ways, such as through comments, post content, or, as in this case, HTTP headers.

Real-world examples of XSS attacks in WordPress often involve injecting scripts into fields that are not properly sanitized. For instance, an attacker might embed a script in a comment section, which then executes when an admin views the comments in the WordPress dashboard. Similarly, in the case of CVE-2023-7246, the injection occurs via the X-Forwarded-For header, making it a less obvious but equally dangerous attack vector.

Exploiting the Stored XSS Vulnerability

To exploit the CVE-2023-7246 vulnerability, an attacker needs to manipulate the X-Forwarded-For header in an HTTP request. The following proof-of-concept (PoC) payload demonstrates this:




The potential risks associated with the CVE-2023-7246 vulnerability are substantial. By exploiting this XSS vulnerability, an attacker can gain persistent control over an affected WordPress site. Real-world scenarios include:

  • Account Takeover: Attackers can create new administrator accounts, allowing them full control over the site.
  • Data Exfiltration: Sensitive data, such as user credentials and personal information, can be stolen.
  • Defacement: Attackers can modify site content, leading to reputational damage and loss of user trust.
  • Further Exploitation: With admin access, attackers can install additional malware or use the site as part of a larger botnet.

Recommendations for Improved Security

To mitigate the risks posed by the CVE-2023-7246 vulnerability, it is essential to adopt a multi-layered approach to security:

  • Update the Plugin: Ensure that the “System Dashboard” plugin is updated to the latest version, where this vulnerability has been patched.
  • Sanitize Inputs: Implement proper input validation and sanitization for all user inputs, including HTTP headers.
  • Content Security Policy (CSP): Deploy CSP to limit the execution of malicious scripts.
  • Regular Security Audits: Conduct regular security assessments of all plugins and themes used in your WordPress installation.
  • Educate Users: Train site administrators and users on recognizing and mitigating security threats.

By taking proactive measures to address Stored XSS vulnerabilities like CVE-2023-7246, WordPress website owners can enhance their security posture and safeguard against potential exploitation. Stay vigilant, stay secure.

#WordPressSecurity #XSS #WebsiteSafety #StayProtected #VeryHighVulnerability

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CVE-2023-7246 – System Dashboard – XSS via Header Injection – POC

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