WordPress attached file meta

WordPress attachment / media protected meta _wp_attached_file is single point of failure for WP. Having access to its value results in RCE as we already show in previous writings: non binary safe imagick function, theme directory writing and arbitrary file delete. There are different paths towards _wp_attached_file, because at the end of the day is meta value, but also huge effort was put in the past to fix all of the paths towards it – ofc. not even close enough.

Eli5 PoC

Let we check the wp_restore_image WP function. There we have:

$meta             = wp_get_attachment_metadata( $post_id );
$file             = get_attached_file( $post_id );
$backup_sizes     = get_post_meta( $post_id, '_wp_attachment_backup_sizes', true );

e.g. _wp_attachment_metadata and _wp_attached_file  are not handled as regular meta values, but _wp_attachment_backup_sizes is. Later in the code:

$data = $backup_sizes['full-orig'];
$restored_file = path_join( $parts['dirname'], $data['file'] );
$restored      = update_attached_file( $post_id, $restored_file );

And this show us that anyone with control over the _wp_attachment_backup_sizes have access towards _wp_attached_file. Hint: wordpress-importer and will be used as one of the show cases for full exploitation demo 🙂

Few facts

  • preventing access towards protected meta with current_user_can( 'edit_post_meta',... or just is_protected_meta checks before update_metadata and update_post_meta is impossible with current code base and depends of MySQL configuration
  • there are a lot of sinks towards update_attached_file around WP eco system
  • take care when using wp_insert_post


  • Why would anyone put remediation to meta value ?!?!?!