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CRV2 RevCodePersistentAntiPatternJava

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Java Persistence anti-patterns

Spring –Hibernate Anti-patterns

Some of the following anti-patterns are an important concern in the security area of Java applications. A related problem with these anti-patterns is data integrity.

Lazy loading

This feature reduces the handling of data in an asynchronous way, which avoids unnecessary requests to the database, however it can causes problems with persistence. Errors associated with Lazy loading are:

org.hibernate.StaleObjectStateException: Row was updated or deleted by another transaction (or    
unsaved-value mapping was incorrect)

N+1 Select issue

This problem occurs when the collection is returned from the database, containing n+1 separate queries instead of a single join query. This issue is quite challenging to solve because it depends on the specific implementation of the code, therefore look for the following executions:

Sessions per Operation anti-pattern

This anti pattern is caused by the opening and closing of individual sessions for each call executed to the database. In order to avoid this issue, make sure the calls are planned in sequence. Control proper implementation of persistence context. Problem occurs when DAO uses different persistence context for each one, in other words, a different Session or EntityManager.

Example of anti-pattern : Using the following code for each operation

session = sessionFactory.openSession(); 

Open Conversation anti-pattern

Keeping a database session alive while a user 'a' is editing data meanwhile, a lock is exerted to avoid concurrency issues can cause serious performance and bottlenecks in the application. It is not advisable to do this in order to keep data integrity. There are other Hibernate features that allows the developer to handle sessions in a much efficient way such as automatic optimistic concurrency

Long Term Persistence Security Issues

Long-term persistence is a model that enables beans to be saved in XML format.(Java Tutorial, 2013). For this purpose, a programmer can use XMLEncoder class to pass through output files for textual representation of Serializable objects.In the example provided in the Java Tutorial, the programmer can invoke and create an instance of javax.swing.JButton such as this

<object class="javax.swing.JButton">
   <void method="setText">

The vulnerability occurs when instead of passing acquitted XML code, the attacker sends dangerous Payloads. This vulnerability was shown by Dinis Cruz, Alvaro Muñoz and Abraham Kang in DefCon Conference 2013 “Resting on Your Laurels will get you Pwned: Effectively Code Reviewing REST Applications to avoid getting powned”

As explained by Dinis Cruz (2013) in his blog "there are two key scenarios where this ‘feature’ becomes a spectacular vulnerability:

  • Server-side backend system that process attacker-controlled XML files using XMLDecoder
  • REST APIs that uses XMLDecoder to create strongly type objects from the HTTP Request data

And the 2nd case is exactly what happens with Restlet REST API , which wraps XMLDecode in its org.restlet.representation.ObjectRepresentation<T> feature/class."(Cruz, 2013)

An Example of an attack which can be fond in Github from many examples created by Cruz , creates an item

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<object class="firstResource.Item">	
<string>a aName</string>
<string>a Description</string>


It's clear that proper understanding of certain features and Java methods is essential to avoid certain vulnerabilities associated with the use of Persistence in frameworks, ORM'S and specific Java classes


NHibernate, 2013 "Transactions and concurrency control" available at accessed on 4rd October 2013

Oracle, 2013 "Java Tutorials" available at Accessed on 3rd October 2013

Dinis Cruz, 2013 "Using XMLDecoder to execute server-side Java Code on an Restlet application (i.e. Remote Command Execution)" available at Accessed on 3rd October 2013