Project: WASC Threat Classification

Threat Type: Attack

Reference ID: WASC-32


Routing Detour

The WS-Routing Protocol (WS-Routing) is a protocol for exchanging SOAP messages from an initial message sender to an ultimate receiver, typically via a set of intermediaries. The WS-Routing protocol is implemented as a SOAP extension, and is embedded in the SOAP Header. WS-Routing is often used to provide a way to direct XML traffic through complex environments and transactions by allowing interim way stations in the XML path to assign routing instructions to an XML document.


Routing Detours are a type of “Man in the Middle” attack where Intermediaries can be injected or “hijacked” to route sensitive messages to an outside location. Routing information (either in the HTTP header or in WS-Routing header) can be modified en route and traces of the routing can be removed from the header and message such that the receiving application none the wiser that a routing detour has occurred. The header and the insertion of header objects is often less protected than the message; this is due to the fact that the header is used as a catch all for metadata about the transaction such as authentication, routing, formatting, schema, canonicalization, namespaces, etc. Also, many processes may be involved in adding to/processing the header of an XML document. In many implementations the routing info can come from an external web service (using WS-Referral for example) that provides the specific routing for the transaction.


WS-Addressing is a newer standard published by the W3C to provide routing functionality to SOAP messages. One of the key differences between WS-Routing and WS-Addressing is that WS-Addressing only provides the next location in the route. While little research has been done into the susceptibility of WS-Addressing to Routing Detour Attack, at least one paper (see reference #6 below) suggests that WS-Addressing is vulnerable to Routing Detour as well.