Full Path Disclosure

Full Path Disclosure (FPD) vulnerabilities enable the attacker to see the path to the webroot/file. e.g.: /home/omg/htdocs/file/. Certain vulnerabilities, such as using the load_file() (within a SQL Injection ) query to view the page source, require the attacker to have the full path to the file they wish to view. Then the attacker can use this info to perform other type of attacks based on the obtained information.

Examples of attacks

Empty Array

If we have a site that uses a method of requesting a page like this:


We can use a method of opening and closing braces that causes the page to output an error. This method would look like this:


This renders the page defunct thus spitting out an error:

Warning: opendir(Array): failed to open dir: No such file or directory in /home/omg/htdocs/index.php on line 84
Warning: pg_num_rows(): supplied argument ... in /usr/home/example/html/pie/index.php on line 131

Null Session Cookie

Another popular and very reliable method of producing errors containing a FPD is to give the page a nulled session using Javascript Injections. A simple injection using this method would look something like so:


By simply setting the PHPSESSID cookie to nothing (null) we get an error.

Warning: session_start() [function.session-start]: The session id contains illegal characters, 
valid characters are a-z, A-Z, 0-9 and '-,' in /home/example/public_html/includes/functions.php on line 2


This vulnerability is prevented simply by turning error reporting off so your code does not spit out errors. (Joomla has a global setting to set the error reporting level in the latest versions, but is always good to have an extra line of code to prevent such attacks.)


Errors can contain useful information for site owner so instead of disabling the error reporting at all, it is possible to only hide errors from output by display_errors.

Direct Access to files that requires preloaded library files

Web application developers sometimes fail to add safe checks in files that requires preloaded library/function files. This is prone to reveal possible sensitive information when those applications' URLs are directly requested. Sometimes, it's a clue to Local File Inclusion vulnerability.

Concerning with Mambo CMS, if we access to a direct url, like http://site.com/mambo/mambots/editors/mostlyce/jscripts/tiny_mce/plugins/spellchecker/classes/PSpellShell.php, then we get

<br />
<b>Fatal error</b>:  Class 'SpellChecker' not found in <b>/home/victim/public_html/mambo/mambots/editors/mostlyce/jscripts/tiny_mce/plugins/spellchecker/classes/PSpellShell.php</b> on line <b>9</b><br />

To prevent this, Joomla implemented a required coding practice - you need to check in every file used, if is accessed directly or executed by another file from Joomla code. The code to be inserted is this:

defined('_JEXEC') or die('Restricted access');