CVE-2023-50164: Apache Struts Remote Code Execution Vulnerability

In the realm of Java web application development, Apache Struts stands as a paragon of efficiency and modern design. This free, open-source Model-View-Controller (MVC) framework has empowered developers to create elegant web applications with relative ease. However, the recent discovery of a critical vulnerability has cast a shadow over its robust architecture.

The security flaw, identified as CVE-2023-50164, poses a severe threat to systems running certain versions of Apache Struts. This vulnerability is rooted in the framework’s handling of file upload parameters, which, if manipulated, can lead to unauthorized path traversal. This means an attacker can exploit these parameters to navigate the server’s directory structure and upload a malicious file. This file, once deployed, can lead to Remote Code Execution (RCE) – a nightmare scenario for any system administrator.

“An attacker can manipulate file upload params to enable paths traversal and under some circumstances this can lead to uploading a malicious file which can be used to perform Remote Code Execution,” reads the security advisory.


This vulnerability was discovered and reported by security researcher Steven Seeley. The versions of Apache Struts impacted by this vulnerability span a considerable range. Systems running Struts 2.5.0 to Struts 2.5.32 and Struts 6.0.0 to Struts 6.3.0 are at risk. The potential for exploitation in these versions cannot be overstated.

In response to the CVE-2023-50164 flaw, Apache has released updated versions of Struts. Upgrading to Struts 2.5.33 or Struts or later is not just recommended; it’s imperative. This upgrade is the digital equivalent of a vaccine against a virulent cyber threat – a necessary step to ensure the health and security of your web applications.

In addition to patching, it is recommended that you take the following steps to further secure your Apache Struts applications:

  • Review your file upload configurations: Ensure that your applications are configured to only accept authorized file types and to limit the size of uploaded files.
  • Use a web application firewall (WAF): A WAF can help to detect and block malicious traffic.
  • Keep your software up-to-date: Regularly update your Apache Struts framework and any other software you are using to the latest version.
  • Monitor your applications: Monitor your applications for any suspicious activity that could indicate an attack.