CodeQL documentation

Missing XML validation

ID: cs/xml/missing-validation
Kind: path-problem
Severity: recommendation
Precision: high
   - security
   - external/cwe/cwe-112
Query suites:
   - csharp-security-extended.qls
   - csharp-security-and-quality.qls

Click to see the query in the CodeQL repository

If unsanitized user input is processed as XML, it should be validated against a known schema. If no validation occurs, or if the validation relies on the schema or DTD specified in the document itself, then the XML document may contain any data in any form, which may invalidate assumptions the program later makes.


All XML provided by a user should be validated against a known schema when it is processed.

If using XmlReader.Create, you should always pass an instance of XmlReaderSettings, with the following properties:

  • ValidationType must be set to Schema. If this property is unset, no validation occurs. If it is set to DTD, the document is only validated against the DTD specified in the user-provided document itself - which could be specified as anything by a malicious user.
  • ValidationFlags must not include ProcessInlineSchema or ProcessSchemaLocation. These flags allow a user to provide their own inline schema or schema location for validation, allowing a malicious user to bypass the known schema validation.


In the following example, text provided by a user is loaded using XmlReader.Create. In the first three examples, insufficient validation occurs, because either no validation is specified, or validation is only specified against a DTD provided by the user, or the validation permits a user to provide an inline schema. In the final example, a known schema is provided, and validation is set, using an instance of XmlReaderSettings. This ensures that the user input is properly validated against the known schema.

using System;
using System.IO;
using System.Web;
using System.Xml;
using System.Xml.Schema;

public class MissingXmlValidationHandler : IHttpHandler

    public void ProcessRequest(HttpContext ctx)
        String userProvidedXml = ctx.Request.QueryString["userProvidedXml"];

        // BAD: User provided XML is processed without any validation,
        //      because there is no settings instance configured.
        XmlReader.Create(new StringReader(userProvidedXml));

        // BAD: User provided XML is processed without any validation,
        //      because the settings instance specifies DTD as the ValidationType
        XmlReaderSettings badSettings = new XmlReaderSettings();
        badSettings.ValidationType = ValidationType.DTD;
        XmlReader.Create(new StringReader(userProvidedXml), badSettings);

        // BAD: User provided XML is processed with validation, but the ProcessInlineSchema
        //      option is specified, so an attacker can provide their own schema to validate
        //      against.
        XmlReaderSettings badInlineSettings = new XmlReaderSettings();
        badInlineSettings.ValidationType = ValidationType.Schema;
        badInlineSettings.ValidationFlags |= XmlSchemaValidationFlags.ProcessInlineSchema;
        XmlReader.Create(new StringReader(userProvidedXml), badInlineSettings);

        // GOOD: User provided XML is processed with validation
        XmlReaderSettings goodSettings = new XmlReaderSettings();
        goodSettings.ValidationType = ValidationType.Schema;
        goodSettings.Schemas = new XmlSchemaSet() { { "urn:my-schema", "my.xsd" } };
        XmlReader.Create(new StringReader(userProvidedXml), goodSettings);