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On July 9, 2023, our Wordfence Threat Intelligence team identified and began the responsible disclosure process for a Privilege Escalation vulnerability in weDevs’s WP Project Manager plugin, which is actively installed on more than 10,000 WordPress websites. This vulnerability makes it possible for an authenticated attacker to grant themselves administrative privileges by updating user metadata.

Wordfence Premium, Wordfence Care, and Wordfence Response users received a firewall rule to protect against any exploits targeting this vulnerability on July 13, 2023. Sites still using the free version of Wordfence will receive the same protection on August 12, 2023.

We contacted weDevs on July 11, 2023, and received a response on July 16, 2023. After providing full disclosure details, the developer released a patch on July 24, 2023. We would like to commend the weDevs development team for their prompt response and timely patch.

We urge users to update their sites with the latest patched version of WP Project Manager, which is version 2.6.5 at the time of this writing, as soon as possible.

Vulnerability Summary from Wordfence Intelligence

Description: WP Project Manager <= 2.6.4 – Arbitrary Usermeta Update to Authenticated (Subscriber+) Privilege Escalation
Affected Plugin: WP Project Manager – Task, team, and project management plugin featuring kanban board and gantt charts
Plugin Slug: wedevs-project-manager
Affected Versions: <= 2.6.4
CVE ID: CVE-2023-3636
CVSS Score: 8.8 (High)
Researcher/s: Lana Codes and Chloe Chamberland
Fully Patched Version: 2.6.5

The WP Project Manager plugin for WordPress is vulnerable to privilege escalation in versions up to, and including, 2.6.4 due to insufficient restriction on the ‘save_users_map_name’ function. This makes it possible for authenticated attackers, with minimal permissions such as a subscriber, to modify their user role by supplying the ‘usernames’ parameter.

Technical Analysis

WP Project Manager plugin is a task, project, and team management tool for WordPress.

Upon closer examination of the code, we see that there is an API endpoint, the ‘save_users_map_name’ function, which updates a user’s github and bitbucket username.

public function save_users_map_name( WP_REST_Request $request ) {

$usernames = $request->get_params();
foreach ( $usernames[‘usernames’] as $username_key => $username_value ) {
$username_key_array = explode( ‘_’, $username_key );
if ( in_array( ‘github’, $username_key_array, true ) || in_array( ‘bitbucket’, $username_key_array, true ) ) {
$user_meta_id = $username_key_array[1];
$user_meta_key = $username_key_array[0];
$user_meta_value = ! empty( $username_value ) ? sanitize_text_field( $username_value ) : ”;

update_user_meta( $user_meta_id, $user_meta_key, $user_meta_value );

The most significant problem and vulnerability is caused by the way the explode() and in_array() functions are used to ensure that only the ‘github’ and ‘bitbucket’ meta values can be updated. Unfortunately, these functions are not sufficient to prevent exploitation, because they can be bypassed with a special character, known as a homoglyph, that acts like an underscore, however, won’t be properly “exploded” but will be saved in the database as a proper underscore.

This made it possible for authenticated users, such as subscribers, to supply the ‘wp_capabilities’ array parameter with any desired role, such as administrator, when updating what should be username metadata, which would grant the user access to capabilities based on that role.

As with any Privilege Escalation vulnerability, this can be used for complete site compromise. Once an attacker has gained administrative user access to a WordPress site they can then manipulate anything on the targeted site as a normal administrator would. This includes the ability to upload plugin and theme files, which can be malicious zip files containing backdoors, and modifying posts and pages which can be leveraged to redirect site users to other malicious sites.

Disclosure Timeline

July 9, 2023 – Discovery of the Privilege Escalation vulnerability in WP Project Manager.
July 11, 2023 – We initiate contact with the plugin vendor asking that they confirm the inbox for handling the discussion.
July 13, 2023 – Wordfence Premium, Care, and Response users receive a firewall rule to provide protection against any exploits that may target this vulnerability.
July 16, 2023 – The vendor confirms the inbox for handling the discussion.
July 16, 2023 – We send over the full disclosure details. The vendor acknowledges the report and begins working on a fix.
July 24, 2023 – A fully patched version of the plugin, 2.6.5, is released.
August 12, 2023 – Wordfence Free users receive the same protection.


In this blog post, we detailed a Privilege Escalation vulnerability within the WP Project Manager plugin affecting versions 2.6.4 and earlier. This vulnerability allows authenticated threat actors with subscriber-level permissions or higher to elevate their privileges to those of a site administrator which could ultimately lead to complete site compromise. The vulnerability has been fully addressed in version 2.6.5 of the plugin.

We encourage WordPress users to verify that their sites are updated to the latest patched version of WP Project Manager.

Wordfence Premium, Wordfence Care, and Wordfence Response users received a firewall rule to protect against any exploits targeting this vulnerability on July 13, 2023. Sites still using the free version of Wordfence will receive the same protection on August 12, 2023.

If you know someone who uses this plugin on their site, we recommend sharing this advisory with them to ensure their site remains secure, as this vulnerability poses a significant risk.

For security researchers looking to disclose vulnerabilities responsibly and obtain a CVE ID, you can submit your findings to Wordfence Intelligence and potentially earn a spot on our leaderboard.

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