Home > CAPEC List > CAPEC-147: XML Ping of the Death (Version 2.9)  

CAPEC-147: XML Ping of the Death

 
XML Ping of the Death
Definition in a New Window Definition in a New Window
Attack Pattern ID: 147
Abstraction: Detailed
Status: Draft
Completeness: Complete
Presentation Filter:
+ Summary

An attacker initiates a resource depletion attack where a large number of small XML messages are delivered at a sufficiently rapid rate to cause a denial of service or crash of the target. Transactions such as repetitive SOAP transactions can deplete resources faster than a simple flooding attack because of the additional resources used by the SOAP protocol and the resources necessary to process SOAP messages. The transactions used are immaterial as long as they cause resource utilization on the target. In other words, this is a normal flooding attack augmented by using messages that will require extra processing on the target.

+ Attack Execution Flow
Explore
  1. Survey the target:

    Using a browser or an automated tool, an attacker records all instance of web services to process XML requests.

    Attack Step Techniques

    IDAttack Step Technique DescriptionEnvironments
    1

    Use an automated tool to record all instances of URLs to process XML requests.

    env-Web env-ClientServer
    2

    Use a browser to manually explore the website and analyze how the application processes XML requests.

    env-Web env-ClientServer

    Indicators

    IDTypeIndicator DescriptionEnvironments
    1Positive

    The URL processes XML requests.

    env-Web env-ClientServer
    2Positive

    The application does not accept XML requests.

    env-Web env-ClientServer

    Outcomes

    IDTypeOutcome Description
    1Success
    A list of URLs which process XML requests.

    Security Controls

    IDTypeSecurity Control Description
    1Detective
    Monitor velocity of page fetching in web logs. Humans who view a page and select a link from it will click far slower and far less regularly than tools. Tools make requests very quickly and the requests are typically spaced apart regularly (e.g. 0.8 seconds between them).
Exploit
  1. Launch a resource depletion attack:

    The attacker delivers a large number of small XML messages to the target URLs found in the explore phase at a sufficiently rapid rate. It causes denial of service to the target application.

    Attack Step Techniques

    IDAttack Step Technique DescriptionEnvironments
    1

    Send a large number of crafted small XML messages to the target URL.

    env-Web env-ClientServer

    Outcomes

    IDTypeOutcome Description
    1Success
    The attacker causes the target application denial of service.

    Security Controls

    IDTypeSecurity Control Description
    1Detective
    Monitor velocity of page fetching in web logs.
    2Preventative
    Build throttling mechanism into the resource allocation. Provide for a timeout mechanism for allocated resources whose transaction does not complete within a specified interval.
+ Attack Prerequisites
  • The target must receive and process XML transactions.

+ Typical Severity

Medium

+ Typical Likelihood of Exploit

Likelihood: Low

+ Methods of Attack
  • Flooding
+ Examples-Instances

Description

Consider the case of attack performed against the createCustomerBillingAccount Web Service for an online store. In this case, the createCustomerBillingAccount Web Service receives a huge number of simultaneous requests, containing nonsense billing account creation information (the small XML messages). The createCustomerBillingAccount Web Services may forward the messages to other Web Services for processing. The application suffers from a high load of requests, potentially leading to a complete loss of availability the involved Web Service.

+ Attacker Skills or Knowledge Required

Skill or Knowledge Level: Low

To send small XML messages

Skill or Knowledge Level: High

To use distributed network to launch the attack

+ Resources Required

Transaction generator(s)/source(s) and ability to cause arrival of messages at the target with sufficient rapidity to overload target. Larger targets may be able to handle large volumes of requests so the attacker may require significant resources (such as a distributed network) to affect the target. However, the resources required of the attacker would be less than in the case of a simple flooding attack against the same target.

+ Solutions and Mitigations

Design

Build throttling mechanism into the resource allocation. Provide for a timeout mechanism for allocated resources whose transaction does not complete within a specified interval.

Implementation: Provide for network flow control and traffic shaping to control access to the resources.

+ Attack Motivation-Consequences
ScopeTechnical ImpactNote
Availability
DoS: resource consumption (other)
DoS: resource consumption (other)
+ Injection Vector

XML-capable system interfaces

+ Payload

Maliciously crafted XML messages

+ Activation Zone

XML inspection, parsing and validation routines.

+ Payload Activation Impact

Denial of Service

+ Purposes
  • Exploitation
+ CIA Impact
Confidentiality Impact: LowIntegrity Impact: LowAvailability Impact: High
+ Technical Context
Architectural Paradigms
SOA
Web
Frameworks
All
Platforms
All
+ Content History
Submissions
SubmitterOrganizationDateSource
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation2014-06-23Internal_CAPEC_Team

More information is available — Please select a different filter.
Page Last Updated or Reviewed: December 07, 2015