LimeSurvey 3.17.13 Cross Site Scripting

LimeSurvey versions 3.17.13 and below suffer from reflective and persistent cross site scripting vulnerabilities.

MD5 | ba9b989f3aca0493fcaa3aac94490b26

SEC Consult Vulnerability Lab Security Advisory < 20190912-0 >
title: Stored and reflected XSS vulnerabilities
product: LimeSurvey
vulnerable version: <= 3.17.13
fixed version: =>3.17.14
CVE number: CVE-2019-16172, CVE-2019-16173
impact: medium
found: 2019-08-23
by: Andreas Kolbeck (Office Munich)
David Haintz (Office Vienna)
SEC Consult Vulnerability Lab

An integrated part of SEC Consult
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Vendor description:
"LimeSurvey is the tool to use for your online surveys. Whether you are
conducting simple questionnaires with just a couple of questions or advanced
assessments with conditionals and quota management, LimeSurvey has got you
covered. LimeSurvey is 100% open source and will always be transparently developed.
We can help you reach your goals."


Business recommendation:
LimeSurvey suffered from a vulnerability due to improper input
and output validation. By exploiting this vulnerability an attacker could:
1. Attack other users of the web application with JavaScript code,
browser exploits or Trojan horses, or
2. perform unauthorized actions in the name of another logged-in user.

The vendor provides a patch which should be installed immediately.
Furthermore, a thorough security analysis is highly recommended as only a
short spot check has been performed and additional issues are to be expected.

Vulnerability overview/description:
1) Stored and reflected XSS vulnerabilities
LimeSurvey suffers from a stored and reflected cross-site scripting vulnerability,
which allows an attacker to execute JavaScript code with the permissions of the victim.
In this way it is possible to escalate privileges from a low-privileged account e.g.
to "SuperAdmin".

Proof of concept:
1) Stored and reflected XSS vulnerabilities
Example 1 - Stored XSS (CVE-2019-16172):
The attacker needs the appropriate permissions in order to create new survey groups.
Then create a survey group with a JavaScript payload in the title, for example:


When the survey group is being deleted, e.g. by an administrative user, the JavaScript
code will be executed as part of the "success" message.

Example 2 - Reflected XSS (CVE-2019-16173):
The following proof of concept prints the current CSRF token cookie which contains the
CSRF token. The parameter "surveyid" is not filtered properly:


If the URL schema is configured differently the following payload works:

Vulnerable / tested versions:
The vulnerabilities have been verified to exist in version 3.17.9 and the latest
version 3.17.13. It is assumed that older versions are affected as well.

Vendor contact timeline:
2019-08-29: Contacting vendor through
2019-09-02: Fixes available:
2019-09-02: Release of LimeSurvey v3.17.14 which fixes the security issues
2019-09-03: Release of LimeSurvey v3.17.15 bug fix
2019-09-12: Coordinated release of security advisory

Update to version 3.17.15 or higher:

The vendor provides a detailed list of changes here:

No workaround available.

Advisory URL:


SEC Consult Vulnerability Lab

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Europe | Asia | North America

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EOF A. Kolbeck / @2019

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