Be careful with file uploads

In a comment lamby pointed out a possible security hole in the code of my post “File upload with CakePHP”. He is right, if you know the location of app/config/database.php you can retrieve the database settings including the password.

In the following I will show you the original code, the exploit, and a possible solution.

Ok, here is the view from my earlier post:

// app/views/files/add.thtml
<form action="/files/add" enctype="multipart/form-data" method="post">
    <?php echo $html->file('File'); ?>
    <?php echo $html->submit('Upload')); ?>

And here is the controller:

// app/controllers/files_controller.php
class FilesController extends AppController
    function add()
        if (!empty($this->params['form']))
            $fileData = fread(fopen($this->params['form']['File']['tmp_name'], "r"), 
            $this->params['form']['File']['data'] = $fileData;


With the following view we can store the file app/config/database.php in the database (and download it later):

// app/views/files/exploit.thtml
<form action="/files/add" enctype="multipart/form-data" method="post">
    <input type="hidden" name="File[size]" value="9999" />
    <input type="hidden" name="File[tmp_name]" 
                 value="/home/dho/projectA/app/config/database.php" />
    <?php echo $html->submit('Upload')); ?>

To avoid such an attack we have to check in the controller if $this->params[‘form’][‘File’][‘tmp_name’] points to the folder for temporary files:

if (!empty($this->params['form']) && 
    strpos($this->params['form']['File']['tmp_name'], '/tmp') === 0)


  1. Posted July 30, 2006 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Hi, isn’t possible to use is_uploaded_file on params[‘form’][‘File’][‘tmp_name’]?

  2. Posted August 5, 2006 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Yes, it is possible to use is_uploaded_file.

  3. Posted September 5, 2006 at 2:57 am | Permalink


  4. sundeep
    Posted February 13, 2015 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Thanks for posting, it is an descriptive way to tell. This post seems to be ages ago.
    Could you please tell if this code will be valid for latest version of cakephp2.3 version because i m trying to implement on my code but does not work properly.

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