Monday, February 16, 2015

Unified security error messages in Apache WSS4J and CXF

When Apache WSS4J encounters a error on processing a secured SOAP message it throws an exception. This could be a configuration error, an invalid Signature, incorrect UsernameToken credentials, etc. The SOAP stack in question, Apache CXF for the purposes of this post, then converts the exception into a SOAP Fault and returns it to the client. However the SOAP stack must take care not to leak information (e.g. internal configuration details) to an attacker. This post looks at some changes that are coming in WSS4J and CXF in this area.

The later releases of Apache CXF 2.7.x map the WSS4J exception message to one of the standard error QNames defined in the SOAP Message Security Profile 1.1 specification. One exception is if a "replay" error occurred, such as if a UsernameToken nonce is re-used. This type of error is commonly seen in testing scenarios, when messages are replayed, and returning the original error aids in figuring out what is going wrong. Apache CXF 3.0.0 -> 3.0.3 extends this functionality a bit by adding a new configuration option:
  • - Whether to return the security error message to the client, and not one of the default error QNames. Default is "false".
However, even returning one of the standard security error QNames can provide an "oracle" for certain types of attacks. For example, Apache WSS4J recently released a security advisory for an attack that works if an attacker can distinguish whether the decryption of an EncryptedKey or EncryptedData structure failed. There are also attacks on data encrypted via a cipher block chaining (CBC) mode, that only require the knowledge about whether the specific decryption failed.

Therefore from Apache WSS4J 2.0.3 onwards (and CXF 3.0.4 onwards) a single error fault message ("A security error was encountered when verifying the message") and code ("", "SecurityError") is returned on a security processing error. It is still possible to set "" to "true" to return the underlying security error to aid in testing etc.

No comments:

Post a Comment