It’s always funny to hear yourself speak 🙂

I’ve talked about displaying errors from the database on the user screen a while ago. In my opinion, this is definitely a big no-no and a security problem just waiting to happen.

As some of you know, I have an iPhone (and I like it a lot, but that’s another story). I’ve installed a nice little game called Tap Tap Revenge from Tapulous, a fairly known company and game in the iPhone scene. Immediately after installation, it required me to register or login.

Here is the error I got  trying to click on a email link trying to reclaim my username (I changed the error a bit):

Warning: mysql_connect() [function.mysql-connect]: Too many connections in /var/www/html/tapservices/v1/lib/tapsql.php on line 49

Warning: mysql_select_db(): supplied argument is not a valid MySQL-Link resource in /var/www/html/tapservices/v1/lib/tapsql.php on line 50

Warning: mysql_query(): supplied argument is not a valid MySQL-Link resource in /var/www/html/tapservices/v1/lib/tapsql.php on line 94
INSERT INTO tapulous.devices (user_id, device_id, time) VALUES (‘xxxx’, ‘yyyy’, NOW()) ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE user_id=’xxxx’, time=NOW()
Too many connections


Let’s count how many details we can get from the error message:

  • They are using PHP
  • They are using MySQL
  • They probably use Apache on Linux or some other *nix variant
  • We know the directory structure (and also that it’s v1)
  • They have the SQL code separated in a file called tapsql.php
  • The MySQL server is not configured correctly with regards to the number of connections (or the connection pool is not configured correctly)
  • The database for Tapolous data is called tapolous (shocking, I know)
  • The table for the devices is called devices (another shock)
  • I did not post the link I clicked but if we examine the link and the INSERT statement in the error, it’s easy to see that user input is directly concatenated into the query – this one is really shocking – SQL Injection, anyone???

I’m sure that if you think a bit, you can find even more details in the error message but the last one is the most important one. I would have thought that in this day and age everybody is using bind variables. The first try to SQL Inject the link succeeded, of course. This is a popular application (and site) with a lot of registered users (including me) and having our details out there in the database does not inspire confidence.

I, of course, notified Tapulous immediately and received an email saying that the problem was fixed. Otherwise, I would not have written anything.

Oh, and looking at the original link and the SQL command being executed, I believe it’s very easy to write a small script (shell, Python, just choose your favorite) to iterate on all users and associate all the usernames with your own device…

I’d love to hear your thoughts.