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2013-016: CSRF vulnerability in LinkedIn

2013-016: CSRF vulnerability in LinkedIn

Original release date: June 8th, 2013
Last revised:
July 11th, 2013
Discovered by: Eduardo García Melia
4.3/10 (CVSSv2 Base Score)


LinkedIn is a social networking service and website ( for professionals. The site officially launched on May 5, 2003. As of September 30, 2012 (the end of the third quarter), professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate of approximately two new members per second. Actually, Over 175 million professionals use LinkedIn to exchange information, ideas and opportunities.


CSRF (Cross-site Request Forgery) is an attack which forces an end user to execute unwanted actions on a web application in which he/she is currently authenticated. With a little help of social engineering (like sending a link via email/chat), an attacker may force the users of a web application to execute actions of the attacker's choosing. A successful CSRF exploit can compromise end user data and operation in case of normal user. If the targeted end user is the administrator account, this can compromise the entire web application.
More info about CSRF:

LinkedIn is vulnerable to CSRF attacks in the "Join Groups" functionality. The only token for authenticate the user is a session cookie, and this cookie is sent automatically by the browser in every request.

LinkedIn Groups provide a place for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to share content, find answers, post and view jobs, make business contacts, and establish themselves as industry experts.

An attacker can create a page that includes requests to the "Join Group" functionality of LinkedIn and add to his group the users who, being authenticated, visit the page of the attacker.

The attack is facilitated since the "Join Group" request can be realized across the HTTP GET method instead of the POST method that is realized habitually across the "Join Group" button.


Next, we show a typical request to the "Join Group" functionality:

POST /nhome/nux/group HTTP/1.1


Also, We can use HTTP GET method instead the HTTP POST method used at
this request. This makes it more easy the exploitation of the CSRF vulnerability. So, finally, this
HTTP request provoke the

same result that the original HTTP POST request:

GET /nhome/nux/group?grpId=<groupid>&trk=nux-group-join HTTP/1.1

1. An attacker create a web page "csrf-exploit.html" that realize a HTTP
GET request to the "Join Group" functionality.

For example:
<img height="0" src="<GROUPID>&trk=nux-group-join" width="0" />

2. A user authenticated in LinkedIn visit the "csrf-exploit.html" page
controlled by the attacker.

For example, the attacker sends a mail to the victim (through the
messaging system that provides LinkedIn is better as it ensures that the victim user is authenticated)
and provokes that the victim visits his page (using social engineering techniques).

3. The attacker receives an invitation request from the victim user, so
the attacker just accept this invitation and the user is added to his group.


A malicious user can make the victims send a petition for join his group without his consent / knowledge.


LinkedIn service.




June 08, 2013: Initial release
June 11, 2013: New update


  • June 11, 2013: Vulnerability acquired by Internet Security Auditors.
  • July 11, 2013: Sent to LinkedIn SecTeam.
  • August 15, 2013: Vulnerability was solved for LinkedIn SecTeam.
  • October 17, 2013: Disclosure


The information contained within this advisory is supplied "as-is" with no warranties or guarantees of fitness of use or otherwise. Internet Security Auditors accepts no responsibility for any damage caused by the use or misuse of this information.


Internet Security Auditors is a Spain and Colombia based company leader in web application testing, network security, penetration testing, security compliance implementation and assessing. Our clients include some of the largest companies in areas such as finance, telecommunications, insurance, ITC, etc. We are vendor independent provider with a deep expertise since 2001. Our efforts in R&D include vulnerability research, open security project collaboration and whitepapers, presentations and security events participation and promotion. For further information regarding our security services, contact us.