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These tokens are resolved into the original messages and then retrieved via a back-channel, so unless you have access to the target’s private network (and likely an SSL/TLS implementation bug while you’re at it), these are pretty useless to an attacker.

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As described previously, SAML responses are generally passed either in the URL like this: or in the body of a POST request like this: Both of these forms can be manipulated by an attacking user as it passes through their browser.

If, on the other hand, you see a SAML Artifact like this: then there’s probably not much you can do with it as an attacker.

Of course, the authors of the standard aren’t lax enough to let that slip past them - they’ve tried very hard to fix this problem.

The solution in the standard is to attach an XML Signature to each message, protecting that message against tampering.

The XML Signature standard is an immensely complicated beast, designed by a working group involving all the big names, and intended to be a one-size-fits-all solution to building tamper-resistant XML documents.

Unfortunately, as is often the case, one-size-fits-all becomes the-only-size-fits-nobody.

If I log in to the Id P as “Tim” then I could simply alter the response document to claim to be “Emmanuel” instead.

In fact, I could just entirely forge the response, become Emmanuel, and impersonate him.

While all attacks described here can be carried out without many tools, SAML Raider, a Burp proxy plugin, is a useful tool for testing the common cases.

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