2 Security Considerations for Oracle XML Developer's Kit

The security measures to be taken when using software programs that are built using XDK are explained in this chapter.

2.1 Implementing Security for Java

The process to implement security for Java programs.

2.1.1 Securing XSLT Processing with Oracle XML Developer's Kit

Before using Oracle XML Developer’s Kit for XSLT processing you need to secure it by setting some configuration options.

You must enable secure processing for both the XSLProcessor API and the JAXP transformer API, as follows.

  • Use this Java code to enable the secure processing mode for XSLProcessor:

    processor.setAttribute(XMLConstants.FEATURE_SECURE_PROCESSING, Boolean.TRUE); 
  • Use this Java code to enable the secure processing mode for SAXTransformerFactory of the JAXP transformer API:

    factory.setFeature(XMLConstants.FEATURE_SECURE_PROCESSING, true); 

Together, those settings improve XML-parsing security in the following ways:

  • The settings block access to external resources, by default.

    Developers can then use org.xml.sax.EntityResolver or javax.xml.transform.URIResolver to resolve include and import elements in an XSL stylesheet. They can use Java interface URIResolver to provide XPath or XSLT functions access to trusted external resources.

  • The settings block the use of Java reflection to execute Java code.

    Developers can convert trusted Java classes to interface javax.xml.xpath.XPathFunction and use interface javax.xml.xpath.XPathFunctionResolver to resolve them.

  • The settings limit recursive entity expansion.

    This helps avoid a common denial-of-service attack from excessive resource consumption.


    Although this can limit recursive entity expansion, XDK cannot limit resource consumption during XML transformation. An XSL stylesheet can include an infinite loop or otherwise consume resources extravagantly. For this reason, XSL stylesheets must not be accepted from untrusted sources or external entities. Test all stylesheets used, to ensure that they do not consume excessive resources.

In addition, Oracle recommends that all code that performs XSLT processing of data or files obtained from users or from external, untrusted entities check that secure processing is enabled for both the XSLProcessor API and the JAXP transformer API. Not doing this opens a security vulnerability. After the XSL processor has been secured, accessing external resources and running Java extension functions is not allowed.

Arbitrary Security Exemptions

If you want to arbitrarily override security restrictions, you can use the following options:

  • Perform any of the following modifications to allow access to some external sources:

    • Set URIResolver to either SAXTransformerFactory or XSLProcessor, using the method setURIResolver().

    • Set EntityResolver to XSLProcessor using the method setEntityResolver().

  • Use the Java interface oracle.xml.xslt.XSLSecurityManager to register a whitelist of Java classes and methods with which you can use Java reflection extension functions.

  • Register XSLSecurityManager using the XSLProcessor method setAttribute() to run an extension function that you know to be safe:

    processor.setAttribute(XSLProcessor.SECURITY_MANAGER, securityManager);
  • Use a simple API on XSLSecurityManager to implement a whitelist of Java classes and methods:

    boolean checkExtensionFunction(String className, String fnName);

2.1.2 Using the Oracle XML Parser Safely

Like many XML parsers, by default the XDK parser tries to resolve external references. An attacker can exploit this behavior to perform XML External Entity (XXE) and XML Entity Expansion (XEE) attacks. To avoid this vulnerability, disable the use of arbitrary references to external resources, and disable unconstrained entity expansion.

To implement a global security setting, which blocks all parsers that are created within the system from using external entities, set the Java system property oracle.xdkjava.security.resolveEntityDefault to false.

To block entity expansion for a particular parser, or to limit the number of levels of entity expansion, set the attribute XMLParser.RESOLVE_ENTITY_DEFAULT, or XMLParser.ENTITY_EXPANSION_DEPTH to the parser.

For example:

DOMParser domParser = new DOMParser(); // Extend oracle.xml.parser.v2.XMLParser
domParser.setAttribute(DOMParser.EXPAND_ENTITYREF, false); // Do not  expand entity references
domParser.setAttribute(DOMParser.DTD_OBJECT, dtdObj);  // dtdObj is an instance of oracle.xml.parser.v2.DTD
domParser.setAttribute(DOMParser.ENTITY_EXPANSION_DEPTH, 12); // Do not allow more than 11 levels of entity expansion

If you use JAXP to enable XML parsing, then set FEATURE_SECURE_PROCESSING to true for DocumentBuilderFactory or SAXParserFactor. This blocks the expansion of external entities, limits entity expansion to a depth of 11, and limits the entity expansion count to 64000.

my_factory.setFeature(XMLConstants.FEATURE_SECURE_PROCESSING, true);

Example 2-1 Improving Safety of Java Code that Uses an XML Parser

This Java snippet blocks resolution of external entities, limits the number of entity-expansion levels, and limits the number of entity expansions.

try {
  DocumentBuilderFactory dbf = DocumentBuilderFactory.newInstance();
  dbf.setExpandEntityReferences(false);  // Disable expanding of entities
  try {
  } catch (Throwable e) {
      //handle old parser version
  DocumentBuilder dp = dbf.newDocumentBuilder();
  // Make resolveEntity just throw an exception.
  //   (If you really need to support external references
  //    then resolve publicId only against trusted values.)
  dp.setEntityResolver(new EntityResolver() {
    public InputSource resolveEntity(String publicId, String systemId)
                         throws DOMException, IOException {
      throw new DOMException((short)0, "Security Violation");

2.2 Implementing Security for C

The process to implement security for C programs.

Block Insecure Accesses

Usually, there are two sets of XDK C APIs that take the risks of the XXE attack: one set uses the function LpxInitEncoded()and the other set uses the function XmlCreate()or XmlCreateNew()

For LpxInitEncoded(), feed the flags LPX_FLAG_URL_DONT_OPEN and LPX_FLAG_FILE_DONT_OPEN into the parser API to block external resource accesses.

For example:

LpxBufferParse ( ctx,
                 (oratext *) buf,
                 (size_t) lstlen ( buf ),
                 (oratext *) "UTF-8", (lx_langid) 0, (lxglo *) 0,

For XmlCreate()or XmlCreateNew(), set the parameter no_ri_open to TRUE when creating the context xctx. This setting will block insecure accesses for parser APIs which use xctx.

For example:

xctx = XmlCreateNew(&xerr, (oratext *) "test",
                    (oratext **)NULL, 0, (oratext *)NULL,
                    "data_encoding", “AL32UTF8”,
                    "input_encoding", "AL32UTF8",
                    "no_ri_open",  "TRUE", /* disallow URI resolution */
                    "error_handler", test_errmsg,

The parameter no_ri_open can also be set to TRUE in DOM APIs to block insecure accesses. Setting this flag in DOM APIs ensures that security is enforced even when this flag is not set in XmlCreate().

For example:

doc = XmlLoadDom(xctx, &xerr,
                 "file", filename,
                 "discard_whitespace", TRUE,
                 "validate", TRUE,
                 "no_ri_open", TRUE, /* disallow URI resolution */

Allow Arbitrary Accesses

When users want to allow arbitrary references to external resources or make the accesses under their own control, they can implement the following steps:

  1. Set no_ri_open to FALSE in the locations shown in the previous examples.

  2. Develop customized open, read and close callback functions and initialize an OraSteam using these functions.

  3. Override access to xctx with OraSteam

For example:

ostream = OraStreamInit(actx, (oratext *)"test", &oerr,
                        "open", http_open,
                        "read", http_read,
                        "close", http_close,
xerr = XmlAccess(xctx, XML_ACCESS_HTTP, ostream);

The code creates an instance of ostream by providing three callbacks. The created stream will override the access inside xctx using XmlAccess. xctx is used when calling APIs such as XmlLoadDom. Hence, the user has the option to create rules based on which they can access external resources.

2.3 Security for C++

By default, C++ APIs block accesses to external resources – thereby ensuring security. However, users can override this security restriction and allow arbitrary references to external resources based on their discretion.

The xmlctx.hpp header file uses the CXmlCtx(bool no_ri_open) API to initialize the xctx context and set the parameter no_ri_open. When the no_ri_open parameter is set to true, parser APIs that use xctx will not be able to access external resources. When the no_ri_open parameter is set to false, parser APIs that use xctx will be able to access external resources.

By default, parser APIs that use xctx cannot access external resources. To allow access, set the no_ri_open parameter to false as shown below:

xctx = CXmlCtx(FALSE); /* allow URI resolution */ 


Allowing access to external resources can cause XML External Entity (XXE) and XML Entity Expansion (XEE) attacks. The user should be cautions when overriding the security restriction and allowing access to external resources.