PHP - RCE abusing object creation: new $_GET["a"]($_GET["b"])

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The creation of new arbitrary objects, such as new $_GET["a"]($_GET["a"]), can lead to Remote Code Execution (RCE), as detailed in a writeup. This document highlights various strategies for achieving RCE.

RCE via Custom Classes or Autoloading

The syntax new $a($b) is used to instantiate an object where $a represents the class name and $b is the first argument passed to the constructor. These variables can be sourced from user inputs like GET/POST, where they may be strings or arrays, or from JSON, where they might present as other types.

Consider the code snippet below:

class App {
    function __construct ($cmd) {

class App2 {
    function App2 ($cmd) {

$a = $_GET['a'];
$b = $_GET['b'];

new $a($b);

In this instance, setting $a to App or App2 and $b to a system command (e.g., uname -a) results in the execution of that command.

Autoloading functions can be exploited if no such classes are directly accessible. These functions automatically load classes from files when needed and are defined using spl_autoload_register or __autoload:

spl_autoload_register(function ($class_name) {
    include './../classes/' . $class_name . '.php';

function __autoload($class_name) {
    include $class_name . '.php';


The behavior of autoloading varies with PHP versions, offering different RCE possibilities.

RCE via Built-In Classes

Lacking custom classes or autoloaders, built-in PHP classes may suffice for RCE. The number of these classes ranges between 100 to 200, based on PHP version and extensions. They can be listed using get_declared_classes().

Constructors of interest can be identified through the reflection API, as shown in the following example and the link

RCE via specific methods includes:

SSRF + Phar Deserialization

The SplFileObject class enables SSRF through its constructor, allowing connections to any URL:

new SplFileObject('');

SSRF can lead to deserialization attacks in versions of PHP before 8.0 using the Phar protocol.

Exploiting PDOs

The PDO class constructor allows connections to databases via DSN strings, potentially enabling file creation or other interactions:

new PDO("sqlite:/tmp/test.txt")

SoapClient/SimpleXMLElement XXE

Versions of PHP up to 5.3.22 and 5.4.12 were susceptible to XXE attacks through the SoapClient and SimpleXMLElement constructors, contingent on the version of libxml2.

RCE via Imagick Extension

In the analysis of a project's dependencies, it was discovered that Imagick could be leveraged for command execution by instantiating new objects. This presents an opportunity for exploiting vulnerabilities.

VID parser

The VID parser capability of writing content to any specified path in the filesystem was identified. This could lead to the placement of a PHP shell in a web-accessible directory, achieving Remote Code Execution (RCE).

VID Parser + File Upload

It's noted that PHP temporarily stores uploaded files in /tmp/phpXXXXXX. The VID parser in Imagick, utilizing the msl protocol, can handle wildcards in file paths, facilitating the transfer of the temporary file to a chosen location. This method offers an additional approach to achieve arbitrary file writing within the filesystem.

PHP Crash + Brute Force

A method described in the original writeup involves uploading files that trigger a server crash before deletion. By brute-forcing the name of the temporary file, it becomes possible for Imagick to execute arbitrary PHP code. However, this technique was found to be effective only in an outdated version of ImageMagick.


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