I’m a software engineer. I got my first computer when I was 7 and have loved programming ever since. I’ve been developing corporate web applications since 1999, mostly using Java based technologies, but I like to try and explore a little bit of everything interesting going around the web/mobile technology scene. I like hard rock, RPG video games (all flavors), science fiction and fantasy books, and almost all movies (unless they star Sandra Bullock or Hugh Grant). Ricardo is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 16 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Stronger Anti Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) Filter for Java Web Apps

  • submit to reddit

Here is a good and simple anti cross-site scripting (XSS) filter written for Java web applications. What it basically does is remove all suspicious strings from request parameters before returning them to the application. It’s an improvement over my previous post on the topic.

You should configure it as the first filter in your chain (web.xml) and it’s generally a good idea to let it catch every request made to your site.

The actual implementation consists of two classes, the actual filter is quite simple, it wraps the HTTP request object in a specialized HttpServletRequestWrapper that will perform our filtering.

public class XSSFilter implements Filter {
    public void init(FilterConfig filterConfig) throws ServletException {
    public void destroy() {
    public void doFilter(ServletRequest request, ServletResponse response, FilterChain chain)
        throws IOException, ServletException {
        chain.doFilter(new XSSRequestWrapper((HttpServletRequest) request), response);

The wrapper overrides the getParameterValues(), getParameter() and getHeader() methods to execute the filtering before returning the desired field to the caller. The actual XSS checking and striping is performed in the stripXSS() private method.

import java.util.regex.Pattern;
import javax.servlet.http.HttpServletRequest;
import javax.servlet.http.HttpServletRequestWrapper;
public class XSSRequestWrapper extends HttpServletRequestWrapper {
    private static Pattern[] patterns = new Pattern[]{
        // Script fragments
        Pattern.compile("<script>(.*?)</script>", Pattern.CASE_INSENSITIVE),
        // src='...'
        Pattern.compile("src[\r\n]*=[\r\n]*\\\'(.*?)\\\'", Pattern.CASE_INSENSITIVE | Pattern.MULTILINE | Pattern.DOTALL),
        Pattern.compile("src[\r\n]*=[\r\n]*\\\"(.*?)\\\"", Pattern.CASE_INSENSITIVE | Pattern.MULTILINE | Pattern.DOTALL),
        // lonely script tags
        Pattern.compile("</script>", Pattern.CASE_INSENSITIVE),
        Pattern.compile("<script(.*?)>", Pattern.CASE_INSENSITIVE | Pattern.MULTILINE | Pattern.DOTALL),
        // eval(...)
        Pattern.compile("eval\\((.*?)\\)", Pattern.CASE_INSENSITIVE | Pattern.MULTILINE | Pattern.DOTALL),
        // expression(...)
        Pattern.compile("expression\\((.*?)\\)", Pattern.CASE_INSENSITIVE | Pattern.MULTILINE | Pattern.DOTALL),
        // javascript:...
        Pattern.compile("javascript:", Pattern.CASE_INSENSITIVE),
        // vbscript:...
        Pattern.compile("vbscript:", Pattern.CASE_INSENSITIVE),
        // onload(...)=...
        Pattern.compile("onload(.*?)=", Pattern.CASE_INSENSITIVE | Pattern.MULTILINE | Pattern.DOTALL)

    public XSSRequestWrapper(HttpServletRequest servletRequest) {
    public String[] getParameterValues(String parameter) {
        String[] values = super.getParameterValues(parameter);
        if (values == null) {
            return null;
        int count = values.length;
        String[] encodedValues = new String[count];
        for (int i = 0; i < count; i++) {
            encodedValues[i] = stripXSS(values[i]);
        return encodedValues;
    public String getParameter(String parameter) {
        String value = super.getParameter(parameter);
        return stripXSS(value);
    public String getHeader(String name) {
        String value = super.getHeader(name);
        return stripXSS(value);
    private String stripXSS(String value) {
        if (value != null) {
            // NOTE: It's highly recommended to use the ESAPI library and uncomment the following line to
            // avoid encoded attacks.
            // value = ESAPI.encoder().canonicalize(value);
            // Avoid null characters
            value = value.replaceAll("\0", "");
            // Remove all sections that match a pattern
            for (Pattern scriptPattern : patterns){
                value = scriptPattern.matcher(value).replaceAll("");
        return value;

Notice the comment about the ESAPI library, I strongly recommend you check it out and try to include it in your projects.

If you want to dig deeper on the topic I suggest you check out the OWASP page about XSS and RSnake’s XSS (Cross Site Scripting) Cheat Sheet.



Published at DZone with permission of Ricardo Zuasti, author and DZone MVB. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)


Lance Semmens replied on Tue, 2012/04/03 - 3:07am

This implementation is quite inefficient. A Pattern can be expensive to parse and at the moment, you re-create the same patterns for every request parameter or header read. Please remove all of your Pattern declarations from stripXSS() and instead, declare them as static final.




Ricardo Zuasti replied on Wed, 2012/05/02 - 3:26pm in response to: Lance Semmens

You are quite right... I'll post an improved version of the code ASAP.



Ricardo Zuasti replied on Wed, 2012/05/02 - 3:52pm in response to: Lance Semmens

There, updated, not only faster but also nicer ;)

Thanks Lance for the suggestion.



Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.