Joomla User Manual

Manual Index

Vulnerable Extensions

Extension Sources

Anyone may write and distribute a Joomla! extension as a service to the global community. Such third party extensions may be found on professional extension developer's websites, personal blog websites, GitHub and similar repositories and the Joomla Extensions Directory website.

Vulnerable Extensions

Very few sources offer deliberately malicious extensions. Usually, a vulnerable extension is one that has been found to contain (or contribute to) a security vulnerability after initial release.

Vulnerable extensions are not necessarily poorly coded. As the Web evolves, technical requirements and commonly accepted coding practices change. Active projects release new versions of their extensions as requirements change and quickly fix any reported vulnerabilities.

If you are concerned about any of your extensions you should consult the Joomla Vulnerable Extensions list (VEL) which contains information on 240+ mostly old extensions.

The JED Checker

If you are concerned about an extension that does not appear in the VEL you can use the JED Checker extension. This is an extension used to check extensions submitted to appear in the Joomla Extensions Directory list. It is installed like any other extension. In use, it accepts an extension zip file and examines its contents for compliance with JED standards. It is extremely useful even for extensions that do not appear in the JED list. Here is an example screenshot:

jed checker result

The 400 PHP files with missing GPL Licence Notice are in third party libraries with a different Licence. The 30 files identified by the Joomla Anti-Malware Scan Script are also in those third party libraries. There is work to do on the files mising JEXEC security!

Removing a Vulnerable Extension

Make a List of Files to Remove

If you can locate it, read the extension's xml file to determine exactly which directories, files, and database tables were added to your system. The XML file is in the original zip archive used during the extension install process. For example, the zip archive for an extension called mod_vulnerable, would contain an XML file called, mod_vulnerable.xml, and might contain a list of files such as the following:


Uninstall Via the Joomla Installer

Using the Installer in the Joomla! Administrator backend, uninstall the vulnerable extension. You may also need to uninstall related modules, components, or plugins.

Verify that the Uninstall Process was Complete

Don't trust the extension to safely remove all of its files. Compare directories and files on your system to the extension's XML list to ensure that all related files were actually removed.

Optionally, Remove the Related Database Tables

Check your database and remove any tables created by the extension. To ease the upgrade process to new versions, many uninstall scripts do not remove related database tables. You can find the list of tables in each extension's XML file.

If you plan to install a safer, compatible version of the same extension and you want to reuse existing data, you can usually leave the database tables as is.

Remove Menu Links

Simply removing the menu links to an extension, or unpublishing a module is not enough to protect your site! As long as the extension's files exist on your server, you are vulnerable. Note how in the following examples an attacker can bypass the Joomla! index file to directly target any file, of any extension.