CodeQL documentation

Incomplete URL scheme check

ID: js/incomplete-url-scheme-check
Kind: problem
Severity: warning
Precision: high
Tags:
   - security
   - correctness
   - external/cwe/cwe-020
Query suites:
   - javascript-code-scanning.qls
   - javascript-security-extended.qls
   - javascript-security-and-quality.qls

Click to see the query in the CodeQL repository

URLs starting with javascript: can be used to encode JavaScript code to be executed when the URL is visited. While this is a powerful mechanism for creating feature-rich and responsive web applications, it is also a potential security risk: if the URL comes from an untrusted source, it might contain harmful JavaScript code. For this reason, many frameworks and libraries first check the URL scheme of any untrusted URL, and reject URLs with the javascript: scheme.

However, the data: and vbscript: schemes can be used to represent executable code in a very similar way, so any validation logic that checks against javascript:, but not against data: and vbscript:, is likely to be insufficient.

Recommendation

Add checks covering both data: and vbscript:.

Example

The following function validates a (presumably untrusted) URL url. If it starts with javascript: (case-insensitive and potentially preceded by whitespace), the harmless placeholder URL about:blank is returned to prevent code injection; otherwise url itself is returned.

function sanitizeUrl(url) {
    let u = decodeURI(url).trim().toLowerCase();
    if (u.startsWith("javascript:"))
        return "about:blank";
    return url;
}

While this check provides partial projection, it should be extended to cover data: and vbscript: as well:

function sanitizeUrl(url) {
    let u = decodeURI(url).trim().toLowerCase();
    if (u.startsWith("javascript:") || u.startsWith("data:") || u.startsWith("vbscript:"))
        return "about:blank";
    return url;
}

References

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