More than 3,000 Openfire servers are currently at risk due to a recent vulnerability that remains unpatched, exposing them to attacks that leverage a new exploit, according to a report by vulnerability intelligence firm VulnCheck.
Openfire, a cross-platform real-time collaboration server developed by Ignite Realtime, is susceptible to CVE-2023-32315, a high-severity flaw found in its administration console. This flaw allows unauthenticated attackers to access restricted pages within the admin console by exploiting a path traversal bug in the setup environment.
Despite various versions of Openfire being affected, the vulnerability was only addressed in releases 4.7.5 and 4.6.8 in May 2023.
This vulnerability has been exploited for over two months, with threat actors taking advantage of it to create new admin console user accounts and install a remote web shell. This web shell grants unauthorized access to execute commands and access data on the server.
While public exploits for CVE-2023-32315 already exist, VulnCheck has uncovered a new exploit path that doesn’t require creating an administrative user account. The firm identified more than 6,300 accessible Openfire servers on the internet, with around half of them being either patched, using older non-vulnerable versions, or forks that might not be affected.
The security issue allows unauthenticated attackers to access the plugin administration endpoint, enabling them to upload the plugin directly and access the web shell without authentication. This approach avoids leaving login attempts in the security audit log and conceals the “uploaded plugin” notification.
Even though malicious activity might be visible in the openfire.log file, attackers can use the path traversal to delete the log via the web shell, leaving the plugin as the sole indicator of compromise.
VulnCheck concludes that the vulnerability has already been exploited by threat actors, possibly even by a well-known botnet, and expects that the exploitation will continue in the future.