To prevent intrusion, pull the plug on your server

There is a new WSDL validation tool on IBM’s AlphaWorks site: the Web Services Interface Definition for Intrusion Defense. This is an Eclipse plug-in that checks out your WSDL and flags “any interface feature that could open a door to hacker attacks”. What does it mean in practice? Well, it flags any usage of xsd:any (or xsd:anyType or xsd:anySimpleType) anywhere in your schemas. It also complains if you have elements with maxOccurs=”unbounded”. And more of the same. The result is that this excludes pretty much any existing schema definition. And most of the useful ones one can think of.

The payload of XML messages should reflect the business logic of the service and not the convenience of the implementer. Go tell the line of business manager that the “checkout” operation should be modified so that the number of items in the shopping cart has a hard-coded limit. Go tell the print shop that they can’t accept XHTML documents as input. It is the implementer’s job (and by that I include the runtime, IDE and tools) to make sure the message processing code (be it at the plumbing level or the business level) doesn’t expose security holes.

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