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CAPEC-147: XML Ping of the Death

Attack Pattern ID: 147
Abstraction: Detailed
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+ Description
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.
+ Likelihood Of Attack


+ Typical Severity


+ Relationships
Section HelpThis table shows the other attack patterns and high level categories that are related to this attack pattern. These relationships are defined as ChildOf and ParentOf, 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.
ChildOfStandard Attack PatternStandard 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.528XML Flood
Section HelpThis table shows the views that this attack pattern belongs to and top level categories within that view.
+ Execution Flow
  1. Survey the target: Using a browser or an automated tool, an attacker records all instance of web services to process XML requests.

    Use an automated tool to record all instances of URLs to process XML requests.
    Use a browser to manually explore the website and analyze how the application processes XML requests.
  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.

    Send a large number of crafted small XML messages to the target URL.
+ Prerequisites
The target must receive and process XML transactions.
+ Skills Required
[Level: Low]
To send small XML messages
[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.
+ Consequences
Section HelpThis table specifies different individual consequences associated with the attack pattern. The Scope identifies the security property that is violated, while the Impact describes the negative technical impact that arises if an adversary succeeds in their attack. The Likelihood provides information about how likely the specific consequence is expected to be seen relative to the other consequences in the list. For example, there may be high likelihood that a pattern will be used to achieve a certain impact, but a low likelihood that it will be exploited to achieve a different impact.
Resource Consumption
+ 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.
+ Example Instances
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.
+ Taxonomy Mappings
Section HelpCAPEC mappings to ATT&CK techniques leverage an inheritance model to streamline and minimize direct CAPEC/ATT&CK mappings. Inheritance of a mapping is indicated by text stating that the parent CAPEC has relevant ATT&CK mappings. Note that the ATT&CK Enterprise Framework does not use an inheritance model as part of the mapping to CAPEC.
Relevant to the ATT&CK taxonomy mapping (see parent )
+ Content History
Submission DateSubmitterOrganization
(Version 2.6)
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Modification DateModifierOrganization
(Version 2.12)
CAPEC Content TeamThe MITRE Corporation
Updated Solutions_and_Mitigations
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Page Last Updated or Reviewed: July 31, 2018