Matt RaibleMatt Raible is a Java Champion and Developer Advocate at Okta.

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Over 10 years ago, I wrote my first blog post. Since then, I've authored books, had kids, traveled the world, found Trish and blogged about it all.

Fixing XSS in JSP 2

Way back in 2007, I wrote about Java Web Frameworks and XSS. My main point was that JSP EL doesn't bother to handle XSS.

Of course, the whole problem with JSP EL could be solved if Tomcat (and other containers) would allow a flag to turn on XML escaping by default. IMO, it's badly needed to make JSP-based webapps safe from XSS.

A couple months later, I proposed a Tomcat enhancement to escape JSP's EL by default. I also entered an enhancement request for this feature and attached a patch. That issue has remained open and unfixed for 3 and 1/2 years.

Yesterday, Chin Huang posted a handy-dandy ELResolver that XML-escapes EL values.

I tried Chin's resolver in AppFuse today and it works as well as advertised. To do this, I copied his EscapeXML*.java files into my project, changed the JSP API's Maven coordinates from javax.servlet:jsp-api:2.0 to javax.servlet.jsp:jsp-api:2.1 and added the listener to web.xml.

With Struts 2 and Spring MVC, I was previously able to have ${param.xss} and pass in ?xss=<script>alert('gotcha')</script> and it would show a JavaScript alert. After using Chin's ELResolver, it prints the string on the page instead of displaying an alert.

Thanks to Chin Huang for this patch! If you're using JSP, I highly recommend you add this to your projects as well.

Posted in Java at Feb 28 2011, 02:08:46 PM MST 7 Comments