CodeQL documentation

Specifying additional remote flow sources for JavaScript

Deprecation Notice

Specifying remote flow sources with the JSON format described here is soon to be deprecated and will be removed in the future.

You can model potential sources of untrusted user input in your code without making changes to the CodeQL standard library by specifying extra remote flow sources in an external file.

As mentioned in the Data flow cheat sheet for JavaScript, the CodeQL libraries for JavaScript provide a class RemoteFlowSource to represent sources of untrusted user input, sometimes also referred to as remote flow sources.

To model a new source of untrusted input, such as a previously unmodelled library API, you can define a subclass of RemoteFlowSource that covers all uses of that API. All standard analyses will then automatically pick up this new source of remote flow.

However, this approach requires writing QL code and adding it to the standard library, which is not always easy to do. Instead, you can also add a JSON file describing custom sources of untrusted input to your code base and have it picked up without needing to modify the standard library. This JSON file can be hand-written or generated by another tool. The custom remote flow sources are only available to the code base containing the JSON file. This means that you need to copy the JSON file into each code base that requires the customizations.

Specification format

The JSON file must be called codeql-javascript-remote-flow-sources.json and can be located anywhere in your code base. It should consist of a single JSON object. The property names of this object are interpreted as source types. The values they map to should be arrays of strings. Each string should be of the form window.props, where props is a sequence of one or more property names separated by dots. This notation specifies that any value reachable from the global window object by this sequence of property names should be considered as untrusted user input of the associated source type.


Consider the following specification:

  "user input": [ "", "window.user.address", "window.dob" ]

It declares that the contents of global variable dob, as well as the contents of properties name and address of global variable user, should be considered as remote flow sources, with source type “user input”.

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