XML External Entity (XXE) Injection Affecting com.diffplug.spotless:spotless-maven-plugin package, versions [,1.20.0)



    Attack Complexity High
    User Interaction Required
    Confidentiality High
    Integrity High
    Availability High
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7.5 high

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  • published 29 Aug 2019
  • disclosed 28 Jun 2019
  • credit JLLeitschuh

How to fix?

Upgrade com.diffplug.spotless:spotless-maven-plugin to version 1.20.0 or higher.


com.diffplug.spotless:spotless-maven-plugin is a maven plugin that keeps your code spotless.

Affected versions of this package are vulnerable to XML External Entity (XXE) Injection. The XML parser would resolve external entities over both HTTP and HTTPS and didn't respect the resolveExternalEntities setting. For example, this allows disclosure of file contents to a MITM attacker if a victim performs a spotlessApply operation on an untrusted XML file.


XXE Injection is a type of attack against an application that parses XML input. XML is a markup language that defines a set of rules for encoding documents in a format that is both human-readable and machine-readable. By default, many XML processors allow specification of an external entity, a URI that is dereferenced and evaluated during XML processing. When an XML document is being parsed, the parser can make a request and include the content at the specified URI inside of the XML document.

Attacks can include disclosing local files, which may contain sensitive data such as passwords or private user data, using file: schemes or relative paths in the system identifier.

For example, below is a sample XML document, containing an XML element- username.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>

An external XML entity - xxe, is defined using a system identifier and present within a DOCTYPE header. These entities can access local or remote content. For example the below code contains an external XML entity that would fetch the content of /etc/passwd and display it to the user rendered by username.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>
<!DOCTYPE foo [
   <!ENTITY xxe SYSTEM "file:///etc/passwd" >]>

Other XXE Injection attacks can access local resources that may not stop returning data, possibly impacting application availability and leading to Denial of Service.