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XML External Entity (XXE)

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External entities can be used to disclose internal files using the file URI handler, internal file shares, internal port scanning, remote code execution, and denial of service attacks.
  • 1. XML External Entity (XXE) -Jay Thakker Associate IS Analyst
  • 2. XML Basics  XML is a markup language used for  Describing data.  Carry data between two nodes.  Due to its usage it became a standard for exchanging structured data in textual format
  • 3. XML Basics  Format of XML document is defined either by Document Type Definition (DTD) or XML Schema  A XML document is  Well Formed: if document adheres to XML syntax and specification  Valid: If document adheres to the DTD or XML Schema  A DTD defines the structure and the legal elements and attributes of an XML document, which is defined as <!DOCTYPE name [ inner elements ]>  With a DTD, independent groups of people can agree on a standard DTD for interchanging data.
  • 4. XML Basics Order.dtd Order.xml
  • 5. XML Basics  XML Schema contains the definition of data structure
  • 6. XML Basics  XML Parsers validates the document and check that the document is well formatted  XML Parser is designed to read the XML and create a way for programs to use XML.
  • 7. XML Attacks  Basic Architecture on where XML Attacks are performed Browser / Back-end applicationBrowser XXE XML / Fragment Injection
  • 8. Identification Point of XXE  Entities in XML  Entities are used to define shortcuts to special characters.  Entities can be declared internal or external.  Syntax for defining Entities  <!ENTITY entity-name "entity-value">  <!ENTITY entity-name SYSTEM "URI/URL">  There are two ways for identifying XXE  If an input xml parameter is reflecting back in response  Parser error messages
  • 9. Demo
  • 10. Impact of XXE  Denial of Service (DoS)  Remote Code Execution (RCE)  Cross Site Port Attack (XSPA)  Cross Site Scripting (XSS)
  • 11. Mitigation  The safest way to prevent XXE is always to disable DTDs (External Entities) completely. Depending on the parser, the method should be similar to the following: factory.setFeature("", true);  For language or parser specific mitigation below link can be referred.
  • 12. Reference links, documents for R&D     (WAF BYPASS and other advanced techniques) 
  • 13. Thank You
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