SAML is a single sign-on solution. It uses XML, but this is sometimes encoded in such a way to it hard to deal with in Burp Suite. Luckily, there are some extensions that can decode these request.

HTTP redirect binding

SAML allows you to authenticate at one site by logging in on another site. The service provider redirects you to the identity provider. You log in there and the identity provider sends you back to the service provider with a SAML response. You have now authenticated to the service provider without giving it your credentials.

In the first step the service provider gives you a SAML request to sent to the identity provider. This is implemented using a HTTP redirect, to an URL such as this:

Here, the SAMLRequest GET parameter contains some XML that is encoded in several ways:

  • The XML is compressed using the deflate algorithm.
  • The result is base64-encoded.
  • That result is URL-encoded.

Burp can URL-decode, base64-decode, but it cannot inflate the compressed string. It can decode gzip, but that uses another format and another algorithm.

Plugins that decode SAML requests

There are several plugins that URL-decode, base64-decode and inflate the request:

The first two add a tab to the request editor, showing the plaintext SAML request for every request that contains one. “SAML Encoder” has a separate tab to encode and decode SAML requests, similar to the decoder. The plugin didn’t work for me out of the box, but after some tinkering I got it to work. One nice thing is that it indents the XML so that is easier to read.

With both “SAML ReQuest” and “SAML Editor”, editing the XML in the SAML tab also changes the request. This makes it possible to change the SAML request when intercepting or in the repeater.

Update Aug 24: With version 1.2.0 of the powerful SAML Raider plugin it is now also possible to view and modify SAML requests from within the repeater and the intercept tab:

The request has an extra "SAML Raider" tab

Fuzzing SAML request using the intruder

The “SAML ReQuest” is the only plugin that also has support for the intruder, although it’s a little bit hacky. Below a SAML request is a button to “Send Decoded Request to Intruder”.

A button on the bottom of the "SAML ReQuest" tab sends the request to the intruder

This will insert the XML right into the request as a GET parameter, where the encoded request used to be. This only works because SAML ReQuest quietly encodes every SAML request encountered in an intruder request. This means that the request the intruder shows is not the actual request the intruder sends, which is pretty confusing.

The SAML request from the intruder is automatically encoded

As you can see the Burp intruder window has plaintext XML in the SAMLRequest parameter, whereas netcat shows that the actual request contains the encoded XML.

Correctly format your request

The SAML ReQuest plugin encodes anything between <samlp:AuthnRequest and </samlp:AuthnRequest>. This means that if you have an XML declaration such as <?xml version="1.0" ?> before the first tag, that is not going to be encoded and the server won’t understand your request.


SAML ReQuest is the only plugin that makes it possible to use encoded SAML in the intruder, although it is not very easy or transparent. Unfortunately, it is not listed in the BApp Store, but can be downloaded from here.