phpMyAdmin CSRF vulnerability is dangerous but hard to exploit

phpMyAdmin cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability found by an Indian security researcher Ashutosh Barot caused a lot of noise. It’s evident that many website owners began a heated debate on this issue since phpMyAdmin is one of the most popular tools for managing MySQL databases. I find this discussion somewhat surprising because most speakers do not realize what kind of conditions needed to make it possible to exploit this vulnerability. My modest opinion is that this security issue is more dangerous theoretically than in practice. Let’s see why I think so.

phpMyAdmin CSRF vulnerability exploitation mechanism

Attacks on CSRF vulnerabilities are quite primitive. An attacker prepares specially crafted link with some parameters or commands. This link will make some unattended actions if clicked by the administrator or any logged user with sufficient rights of the targeted system. Ashutosh Barot published a short Youtube video which shows how he managed to drop one table from the database with a single click on the link. An attack is possible due to the unprotected GET request operation.

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