Responsible Disclosure: SVG injection in

by @edent | , , , , , | 4 comments | Read ~539 times.

Here's a quick write-up of a minor XSS (Cross Site Scripting) vulnerability on the website of - one of the UK's mobile providers.

A brief recap... Most websites have a search function. If you search for something which cannot be found, the site will often say "No results found for XYZ."

The website says "No results found for: bug bounty."

If we can convince the search engine to spit out HTML, we can inject malicious content into the page.

This is usually done by searching for something like <script>alert("h4X0r");</script>
Three's website detects script elements as hostile and refuses to serve them back.

Access Denied message.

But, curiously, it does allow some HTML elements through. The <u> underline element, for example.

Some text on the website has been underlined.

It wouldn't allow <img> or <video> or most other troublesome content. But I was surprised to see it let through SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics). This means some minor naughtiness can be had!

Doing a search for

<svg xmlns="" viewBox="0 0 128 128" width="128px"><circle cx="64" cy="64" fill="#006add" r="64"/>

Results in a big blue circle being drawn on the page.
The website has a circle drawn on it.
...and that's when I stopped and tried to find someone to report it to!

Why is this a problem?

Drawing a circle is not malicious. But SVGs are complex. They can store intricate graphics.

Because the search parameter is sent in the URL -<svg... - it would be easy for a spammer to send a message saying "Click here for great deals on Three!!!" and then use the SVG to draw a graphic encouraging the hapless user to visit a malicious site.

Or they could create a form to phish users' details. Or... Well, use your imagination.

Reporting it to Three

*sigh* Three don't publish any security contact details. Nor do they participate in any bug bounties that I could find.

I reached out to my friends in the mobile industry - because I didn't have much faith in reporting it via Twitter...

Eventually a friend of a friend sent me a security email address which Three do not publicise. I fired off a quick disclosure and was pleasantly surprised at how seriously they took the issue.


  • 2019-08-22 - Discovered and disclosed. Got a reply in under an hour that it was being looked at and that a 90 day disclosure was fine.
  • 2019-09-20 - Three informed me the issue was fixed, which I verified. They offered to send me a token of their appreciation in lieu of a formal bug bounty.
  • 2019-09-22 - Bug Bounty delivered! A lovely box of chocolates.
    Big ol' box of chocolates!

4 thoughts on “Responsible Disclosure: SVG injection in

  1. Neil says:

    Great! But what are they doing about the non-publicised security contact address?

  2. I'm pleased you got your chocolates, but it made me realise that I've never had a similar bounty when I've reported issues that are /not/ IT-security related.

    I've told various organisations that their websites have broken links or outdated content; that their street cabinets are open; their unoccupied premises insecure; that their shopping trolleys are abandoned in neighbouring streets; and many similar things.

    I've been thanked, surely, but chocolates, vouchers, swag or cash? No.

    1. @edent says:

      A good deed is its own reward... 😀

      But chocolate helps.

  3. beko says:

    It’s kinda ironic that your code snipped exposed missing sanitation and escaping in my RSS aggregator and reader. Reported upstream xD

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