Review an intentionally vulnerable plugin

This was originally posted on WordPress Make/Plugins

Imagine that another plugin author has asked you to look at a plugin that is currently in development to check for security flaws and help them fix any that are present. Would you know what to look for and how to fix the problems? Well, a fun challenge has arrived that will test, and hopefully improve, your knowledge in this crucial area of plugin development. I have developed a small, bug ridden plugin that requires a rigorous security review and suggestions for fixes.

The code is available from

This is an incomplete plugin that aims to log any failed login attempts. Unfortunately, it actually harms the security of a site rather than enhancing it. All of the interesting parts are in vulnerable.php, so you should focus your review there. Please remember not to run this plugin on any server that is accessible to the internet!

If you spot a vulnerability whilst reviewing the code then make a note of the problem, where it’s located and what the problem is. Then come up with a patch that would solve the problem. It might also be beneficial to create a request that would demonstrate the vulnerability which can then be used to test your fix. I hope that this process will help you understand more about vulnerabilities, what sorts of things to look for when reviewing your own code, how to go about coding securely, and how to fix any problems in your own plugins if a flaw is found.


Bonus challenge: with access to a subscriber level account can you find any ways of extracting the data from an option named secret_option?

You can also download the plugin here: Damn Vulnerable Plugin