This attack takes advantage of the entity replacement property of XML where the value of the replacement is a URI. A well-crafted XML document could have the entity refer to a URI that consumes a large amount of resources to create a denial of service condition. This can cause the system to either freeze, crash, or execute arbitrary code depending on the URI.
The table(s) below shows the other attack patterns and high level categories that are related to this attack pattern. These relationships are defined as ChildOf, ParentOf, MemberOf and give insight to similar items that may exist at higher and lower levels of abstraction. In addition, relationships such as CanFollow, PeerOf, and CanAlsoBe are defined to show similar attack patterns that the user may want to explore.
Relevant to the view "Mechanisms of Attack" (CAPEC-1000)
Meta Attack Pattern - A meta level attack pattern in CAPEC is a decidedly abstract characterization of a specific methodology or technique used in an attack. A meta attack pattern is often void of a specific technology or implementation and is meant to provide an understanding of a high level approach. A meta level attack pattern is a generalization of related group of standard level attack patterns. Meta level attack patterns are particularly useful for architecture and design level threat modeling exercises.
Standard Attack Pattern - A standard level attack pattern in CAPEC is focused on a specific methodology or technique used in an attack. It is often seen as a singular piece of a fully executed attack. A standard attack pattern is meant to provide sufficient details to understand the specific technique and how it attempts to accomplish a desired goal. A standard level attack pattern is a specific type of a more abstract meta level attack pattern.
A server that has an implementation that accepts entities containing URI values.
This attack may be mitigated by tweaking the XML parser to not resolve external entities. If external entities are needed, then implement a custom XmlResolver that has a request timeout, data retrieval limit, and restrict resources it can retrieve locally.
In this example, the XML parser parses the attacker's XML and opens the malicious URI where the attacker controls the server and writes a massive amount of data to the response stream. In this example the malicious URI is a large file transfer.
Improper Restriction of XML External Entity Reference ('XXE')
This MemberOf Relationships table shows additional CAPEC Categories and Views that reference this attack pattern as a member. This information is often useful in understanding where a attack pattern fits within the context of external information sources.
Category - A category in CAPEC is a collection of attack patterns based on some common characteristic. More specifically, it is an aggregation of attack patterns based on effect/intent (as opposed to actions or mechanisms, such an aggregation would be a meta attack pattern). An aggregation based on effect/intent is not an actionable attack and as such is not a pattern of attack behavior. Rather, it is a grouping of patterns based on some common criteria.
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Page Last Updated or Reviewed:
July 31, 2018
Use of the Common Attack Pattern Enumeration and Classification dictionary and classification taxonomy, and the associated references from this website, are subject to the