CodeQL documentation

Reflected cross-site scripting

ID: js/reflected-xss
Kind: path-problem
Severity: error
Precision: high
Tags:
   - security
   - external/cwe/cwe-079
   - external/cwe/cwe-116
Query suites:
   - javascript-code-scanning.qls
   - javascript-security-extended.qls
   - javascript-security-and-quality.qls

Click to see the query in the CodeQL repository

Directly writing user input (for example, an HTTP request parameter) to an HTTP response without properly sanitizing the input first, allows for a cross-site scripting vulnerability.

This kind of vulnerability is also called reflected cross-site scripting, to distinguish it from other types of cross-site scripting.

Recommendation

To guard against cross-site scripting, consider using contextual output encoding/escaping before writing user input to the response, or one of the other solutions that are mentioned in the references.

Example

The following example code writes part of an HTTP request (which is controlled by the user) directly to the response. This leaves the website vulnerable to cross-site scripting.

var app = require('express')();

app.get('/user/:id', function(req, res) {
  if (!isValidUserId(req.params.id))
    // BAD: a request parameter is incorporated without validation into the response
    res.send("Unknown user: " + req.params.id);
  else
    // TODO: do something exciting
    ;
});

Sanitizing the user-controlled data prevents the vulnerability:

var escape = require('escape-html');

var app = require('express')();

app.get('/user/:id', function(req, res) {
  if (!isValidUserId(req.params.id))
    // GOOD: request parameter is sanitized before incorporating it into the response
    res.send("Unknown user: " + escape(req.params.id));
  else
    // TODO: do something exciting
    ;
});

References