High Severity Vulnerability Patched in Real-Time Find and Replace Plugin

On April 22, 2020, our Threat Intelligence team discovered a vulnerability in Real-Time Find and Replace, a WordPress plugin installed on over 100,000 sites. This flaw could allow any user to inject malicious Javascript anywhere on a site if they could trick a site’s administrator into performing an action, like clicking on a link in a comment or email.

We reached out to the plugin developer on April 22, 2020, and they released a patch just a few hours after we disclosed the vulnerability to them. This is considered a high-severity security issue, therefore we strongly recommend an immediate update to the latest version available, which at the time of writing is version 4.0.2.

Both Wordfence Premium and Free Wordfence users are protected from XSS attempts against this vulnerability by the Wordfence firewall’s built-in XSS protection.

Description: Cross-Site Request Forgery to Stored Cross-Site Scripting
Affected Plugin: Real-Time Find and Replace
Plugin Slug: real-time-find-and-replace
Affected Versions: <= 3.9
CVE ID: CVE-2020-13641
CVSS Score: 8.8 (High)
Fully Patched Version: 4.0.2

Real-Time Find and Replace provides functionality to dynamically replace any HTML content on WordPress sites with new content without permanently changing the source content. The replacement data loads immediately before it is delivered to the user’s browser. The plugin is very easy to use due to its limited functionality.

To provide this functionality, the plugin registers a sub-menu page tied to the function far_options_page with a capability requirement to “activate_plugins.”

 function far_add_pages() {
	$page = add_submenu_page( 'tools.php', 'Real-Time Find and Replace', 'Real-Time Find and Replace', 'activate_plugins', 'real-time-find-and-replace', 'far_options_page' );
	add_action( "admin_print_scripts-$page", "far_admin_scripts" );

The far_options_page function contains the core of the plugin’s functionality for adding new find and replace rules. Unfortunately, that function failed to use nonce verification, so the integrity of a request’s source was not verified during rule update, resulting in a Cross-Site Request Forgery vulnerability.

function far_options_page() {    
	if ( isset( $_POST['setup-update'] ) ) {
		$_POST = stripslashes_deep( $_POST );
		// If atleast one find has been submitted
		if ( isset ( $_POST['farfind'] ) && is_array( $_POST['farfind'] ) ) { 
			foreach ( $_POST['farfind'] as $key => $find ){

Any attacker capable of tricking a site owner into executing an unwanted action could replace any content or HTML on a vulnerable site with new content or malicious code. This replacement code or content would then execute anytime a user navigated to a page that contained the original content.

An attacker could use this vulnerability to replace a HTML tag like <head> with malicious Javascript. This would cause the malicious code to execute on nearly every page of the affected site, as nearly all pages start with a <head> HTML tag for the page header, creating a significant impact if successfully exploited. The malicious code could be used to inject a new administrative user account, steal session cookies, or redirect users to a malicious site, allowing attackers the ability to obtain administrative access or to infect innocent visitors browsing a compromised site.

Example of <head> HTML tag being replaced with Javascript.

In the most up to date version, a nonce has been added along with a check_admin_referer nonce verification function to ensure the legitimacy of the source of a request.

function far_options_page() {    
	if ( isset( $_POST['setup-update'] ) ) {
        check_admin_referer( 'far_rules_form' );
		$_POST = stripslashes_deep( $_POST );
		// If atleast one find has been submitted
		if ( isset ( $_POST['farfind'] ) && is_array( $_POST['farfind'] ) ) { 
			foreach ( $_POST['farfind'] as $key => $find ){

Disclosure Timeline

April 22, 2020 – Initial discovery and analysis of vulnerability. We verify the Wordfence built-in XSS firewall rule is sufficient. Initial outreach to plugin developer.
April 22, 2020 8:51 AM UTC – Developer responds confirming appropriate inbox.
April 22, 2020 9:34 AM UTC – We provide the full disclosure.
April 22, 2020 1:30 PM UTC – We receive notification that patch has been released.


In today’s post, we detailed a Cross-Site Request Forgery flaw in the Real-Time Find and Replace plugin. This flaw has been fully patched in version 4.0.2. We recommend that users update to the latest version, which is available immediately. Sites running Wordfence Premium, as well as sites using the free version of Wordfence, are protected from Cross-Site Scripting attacks against this vulnerability due to the Wordfence firewall’s built-in protection. If you are aware of a friend or colleague using this plugin, we recommend you forward this security advisory to them as soon as possible to help secure their site.

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