An adversary is able to efficiently decrypt data without knowing the decryption key if a target system leaks data on whether or not a padding error happened while decrypting the ciphertext. A target system that leaks this type of information becomes the padding oracle and an adversary is able to make use of that oracle to efficiently decrypt data without knowing the decryption key by issuing on average 128*b calls to the padding oracle (where b is the number of bytes in the ciphertext block). In addition to performing decryption, an adversary is also able to produce valid ciphertexts (i.e., perform encryption) by using the padding oracle, all without knowing the encryption key.
Any cryptosystem can be vulnerable to padding oracle attacks if the encrypted messages are not authenticated to ensure their validity prior to decryption, and then the information about padding error is leaked to the adversary. This attack technique may be used, for instance, to break CAPTCHA systems or decrypt/modify state information stored in client side objects (e.g., hidden fields or cookies). This attack technique is a side-channel attack on the cryptosystem that uses a data leak from an improperly implemented decryption routine to completely subvert the cryptosystem. The one bit of information that tells the adversary whether a padding error during decryption has occurred, in whatever form it comes, is sufficient for the adversary to break the cryptosystem. That bit of information can come in a form of an explicit error message about a padding error, a returned blank page, or even the server taking longer to respond (a timing attack). This attack can be launched cross domain where an adversary is able to use cross-domain information leaks to get the bits of information from the padding oracle from a target system / service with which the victim is communicating.
This 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.
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.
The decryption routine does not properly authenticate the message / does not verify its integrity prior to performing the decryption operation
The target system leaks data (in some way) on whether a padding error has occurred when attempting to decrypt the ciphertext.
The padding oracle remains available for enough time / for as many requests as needed for the adversary to decrypt the ciphertext.
Ability to detect instances where a target system is vulnerable to an oracle padding attack
Sufficient cryptography knowledge and tools needed to take advantage of the presence of the padding oracle to perform decryption / encryption of data without a key
Design: Use a message authentication code (MAC) or another mechanism to perform verification of message authenticity / integrity prior to decryption
Implementation: Do not leak information back to the user as to any cryptography (e.g., padding) encountered during decryption.
A Related Weakness relationship associates a weakness with this attack pattern. Each association implies a weakness that must exist for a given attack to be successful. If multiple weaknesses are associated with the attack pattern, then any of the weaknesses (but not necessarily all) may be present for the attack to be successful. Each related weakness is identified by a CWE identifier.