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[PHP] date() is evil (XSS’able)

4 March 2014 4 Comments

I was playing with PHP (As usual) and i was thinking about date()

It’s a PHP function that displays date in different formats.

According to the documentation: “Unrecognized characters in the format string will be printed as-is.”

So what if i try to insert HTML there as well?

I tried <?php echo date(‘<img src=x onerror=alert(\’XSS\’)>’; ?>

But all characters are accepted in the format so the output was:
<59033 32Tue, 04 Mar 2014 15:59:32 +00002014-03-04T15:59:32+00:00=x 20143UTCTue, 04 Mar 2014 15:59:32 +0000Tue, 04 Mar 2014 15:59:32 +00002014Tue, 04 Mar 2014 15:59:32 +0000=pmTuesdayUTCTue, 04 Mar 2014 15:59:32 +000031(‘Xthth’)>

Obviously that’s not gonna give us the XSS payload, the page also says:
“You can prevent a recognized character in the format string from being expanded by escaping it with a preceding backslash. If the character with a backslash is already a special sequence, you may need to also escape the backslash.”

So i tried to escape the characters i supplied with a backslash.
echo date(‘<\i\m\g \s\r\c=x \o\n\e\r\r\o\r=\a\l\e\r\t(\’X\S\S\’)\>’);

And viola! i saw the magic message box!

So filter the output of date like you would filter and user submitted input.

And if you don’t think someone would do echo date($_GET[‘date’])………… THINK AGAIN!


date() is evil, don’t trust it.


I received many comments saying this is not something new and not a bug, and that’s absolutely right this is just a friendly reminder to filter your output not a “vulnerability” in the function i never claimed that. this is the expected behavior and it’s mentioned in php.net documentation.


  • nassimweb15 said:

    Which version ?

  • 0xAli (author) said:

    PHP 5.3.13 but it should run everywhere. It’s not a bug in a specific version it’s a feature.

  • anon said:

    I can not occur in the input form.
    Do not see the GET method?

  • 0xAli (author) said:

    I don’t understand what do you mean but it happens if you feed it the user input without validation, just like “echo” “print” etc.

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