Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Apache Santuario - XML Security for Java 2.0.4 released

Apache Santuario - XML Security for Java 2.0.4 has been released. The issues fixed are available here. Perhaps the most significant issue fixed is an interop issue which emerged when XML Security is used with OpenSAML (see the Apache CXF JIRA where this was raised).

Monday, April 13, 2015

Vulnerability testing of Apache CXF based web services

A number of automated tools can be used to conduct vulnerability or penetration testing of web services. In this article, we will take a look at using WS-Attacker to attack Apache CXF based web service endpoints. WS-Attacker is a useful tool based on SOAP-UI and developed by the Chair of Network and Data Security, Ruhr University Bochum ( and 3curity GmbH ( As an indication of how useful this tool is, it has uncovered a SOAP Action Spoofing vulnerability in older versions of CXF (see here). In this testing scenario, WS-Attacker 1.4-SNAPSHOT was used to test web services using Apache CXF 3.0.4. Apache CXF 3.0.4 is immune to all of the attacks described in this article (as can be seen from the "green" status in the screenshots).

1) SOAPAction Spoofing attacks

A SOAPAction spoofing attack is where the attacker will attempt to fool the service by "spoofing" the SOAPAction header to execute another operation. To test this I created a CXF based SOAP 1.1 endpoint which uses the action "soapAction="http://doubleit/DoubleIt"". I then loaded the WSDL into WS-Attacker, and selected the SOAPAction spoofing plugin, selecting a manual SOAP Action. Here is the result:

2) WS-Addressing Spoofing attacks

A WS-Addressing Spoofing attack involves sending an address in the WS-Addressing ReplyTo/To/FaultTo header that is not understood or known by the service, but to which the service redirects the message anyway. To guard against this attack in Apache CXF it is required to ensure that the WS-Addressing headers should be signed. As a sanity test, I added an endpoint where WS-Addressing is not configured, and the tests fail as expected:

3) XML Signature wrapping attacks

XML Signature allows you to sign various parts of a SOAP request, where the parts in question are referenced via an "Id". An attacker can leverage various "wrapping" based attacks to try to fool the resolution of a signed Element via its "Id". So for example, an attacker could modify the signed SOAP Body of a valid request (thus causing signature validation to fail), and put the original signed SOAP Body somewhere else in the request. If the signature validation code only picks up the Element that has been moved, then signature validation will pass even though the SOAP Body has been modified.

For this test I created a number of endpoints that are secured using WS-SecurityPolicy. I captured a successful signed request from a unit test and loaded it into WS-Attacker, and ran the Signature wrapping attack plugin. Here is the result:

4) Denial of Service attacks

A Denial of Service attack is where an attacker attempts to crash or dramatically slow down a service by flooding it with data, or crafting a message in such a way as to cause parsing to crash or hang. An example might be to create an XML structure with a huge amount of Attributes or Elements, that would cause an out of memory error. WS-Attacker comes with a range of different attacks in this area. Here are the results of all of the DoS attacks against a plain CXF SOAP service (apart from the SOAP Array attack, as the service doesn't accept a SOAP array):