Locate and Exploit Test APIs
An attacker exploits a sample, demonstration, or test API that is insecure by default and should not be resident on production systems. Some applications include APIs that are intended to allow an administrator to test and refine their domain. These APIs should usually be disabled once a system enters a production environment. Testing APIs may expose a great deal of diagnostic information intended to aid an administrator, but which can also be used by an attacker to further refine their attack. Moreover, testing APIs may not have adequate security controls or may not have undergone rigorous testing since they were not intended for use in production environments. As such, they may have many flaws and vulnerabilities that would allow an attacker to severely disrupt a target.
An attacker consumes the resources of a target by rapidly engaging in a large number of interactions with the target. This type of attack generally exposes a weakness in rate limiting or flow control in management of interactions. Since each request consumes some of the target's resources, if a sufficiently large number of requests must be processed at the same time then the target's resources can be exhausted.
The degree to which the attack is successful depends upon the volume of requests in relation to the amount of the resource the target has access to, and other mitigating circumstances such as the target's ability to shift load or acquired additional resources to deal with the depletion. The more protected the resource and the greater the quantity of it that must be consumed, the more resources the attacker may need to have at their disposal. A typical TCP/IP flooding attack is a Distributed Denial-of-Service attack where many machines simultaneously make a large number of requests to a target. Against a target with strong defenses and a large pool of resources, many tens of thousands of attacking machines may be required.
When successful this attack prevents legitimate users from accessing the service and can cause the target to crash. This attack differs from resource depletion through leaks or allocations in that the latter attacks do not rely on the volume of requests made to the target but instead focus on manipulation of the target's operations. The key factor in a flooding attack is the number of requests the attacker can make in a given period of time. The greater this number, the more likely an attack is to succeed against a given target.
An attacker causes the target to allocate excessive resources to servicing the attackers' request, thereby reducing the resources available for legitimate services and degrading or denying services. Usually, this attack focuses on memory allocation, but any finite resource on the target could be the attacked, including bandwidth, processing cycles, or other resources. This attack does not attempt to force this allocation through a large number of requests (that would be Resource Depletion through Flooding) but instead uses one or a small number of requests that are carefully formatted to force the target to allocate excessive resources to service this request(s). Often this attack takes advantage of a bug in the target to cause the target to allocate resources vastly beyond what would be needed for a normal request. For example, using an Integer Attack, the attacker could cause a variable that controls allocation for a request to hold an excessively large value. Excessive allocation of resources can render a service degraded or unavailable to legitimate users and can even lead to crashing of the target.
XML Ping of the Death
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.
XML Entity Expansion
An attacker submits an XML document to a target application where the XML document uses nested entity expansion to produce an excessively large output XML. XML allows the definition of macro-like structures that can be used to simplify the creation of complex structures. However, this capability can be abused to create excessive demands on a processor's CPU and memory. A small number of nested expansions can result in an exponential growth in demands on memory.
XML Attribute Blowup
This attack exploits certain XML parsers which manage data in an inefficient manner. The attacker crafts an XML document with many attributes in the same XML node. In a vulnerable parser, this results in a denial of service condition where CPU resources are exhausted because of the parsing algorithm.
XML Nested Payloads
Applications often need to transform data in and out of the XML format by using an XML parser. It may be possible for an attacker to inject data that may have an adverse effect on the XML parser when it is being processed. By nesting XML data and causing this data to be continuously self-referential, an attacker can cause the XML parser to consume more resources while processing, causing excessive memory consumption and CPU utilization. An attacker's goal is to leverage parser failure to his or her advantage. In most cases this type of an attack will result in a denial of service due to an application becoming unstable, freezing, or crash. However it may be possible to cause a crash resulting in arbitrary code execution, leading to a jump from the data plane to the control plane [R.230.1].
XML Oversized Payloads
Applications often need to transform data in and out of the XML format by using an XML parser. It may be possible for an attacker to inject data that may have an adverse effect on the XML parser when it is being processed. By supplying oversized payloads in input vectors that will be processed by the XML parser, an attacker can cause the XML parser to consume more resources while processing, causing excessive memory consumption and CPU utilization, and potentially cause execution of arbitrary code. An attacker's goal is to leverage parser failure to his or her advantage. In many cases this type of an attack will result in a denial of service due to an application becoming unstable, freezing, or crash. However it is possible to cause a crash resulting in arbitrary code execution, leading to a jump from the data plane to the control plane [R.231.1].
An attacker performs flooding at the HTTP level to bring down only a particular web application rather than anything listening on a TCP/IP connection. This denial of service attack requires substantially fewer packets to be sent which makes DoS harder to detect. This is an equivalent of SYN flood in HTTP.
The idea is to keep the HTTP session alive indefinitely and then repeat that hundreds of times. This attack targets resource depletion weaknesses in web server software. The web server will wait to attacker's responses on the initiated HTTP sessions while the connection threads are being exhausted.
Violating Implicit Assumptions Regarding XML Content (aka XML Denial of Service (XDoS))
XML Denial of Service (XDoS) can be applied to any technology that utilizes XML data. This is, of course, most distributed systems technology including Java, .Net, databases, and so on. XDoS is most closely associated with web services, SOAP, and Rest, because remote service requesters can post malicious XML payloads to the service provider designed to exhaust the service provider's memory, CPU, and/or disk space. The main weakness in XDoS is that the service provider generally must inspect, parse, and validate the XML messages to determine routing, workflow, security considerations, and so on. It is exactly these inspection, parsing, and validation routines that XDoS targets.
There are three primary attack vectors that XDoS can navigate
Target CPU through recursion: attacker creates a recursive payload and sends to service provider
Target memory through jumbo payloads: service provider uses DOM to parse XML. DOM creates in memory representation of XML document, but when document is very large (for example, north of 1 Gb) service provider host may exhaust memory trying to build memory objects.
XML Ping of death: attack service provider with numerous small files that clog the system.
All of the above attacks exploit the loosely coupled nature of web services, where the service provider has little to no control over the service requester and any messages the service requester sends.
XML Parser Attack
Applications often need to transform data in and out of the XML format by using an XML parser. It may be possible for an attacker to inject data that may have an adverse effect on the XML parser when it is being processed. These adverse effects may include the parser crashing, consuming too much of a resource, executing too slowly, executing code supplied by an attacker, allowing usage of unintended system functionality, etc. An attacker's goal is to leverage parser failure to his or her advantage. In some cases it may be possible to jump from the data plane to the control plane via bad data being passed to an XML parser. [R.99.1]