Preventing Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) Attacks in Ruby on Rails: A Comprehensive Guide

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Written By Juliet D'cruz

In this digital era, we all are surrounded by some or the other technical things which make our day-to-day lives smoother and faster. Also, along with these technological improvements, some data security concerns are rising nowadays. We see various data hacking malpractices which cause badly to the growth and development of businesses. Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a security vulnerability that lets attackers plan and do some malicious scripts on web pages. For instance, they will steal valuable information, change the website content, and perform unauthorized actions. So, if we talk about in the context of Ruby on Rails, it is essential to check about XSS attacks and how to take proper measures for the security of your application. You are in the right place if you are new and unaware of the XSS attacks and measures to reduce that. Let’s know about it below in depth.

What are Cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks?

In simple language, Cross-Site scripting ( XSS) is a security error that occurs in all sorts of web applications that allow attackers or hackers to do malicious scripts into the current web pages the users see. These scripts can cause several consequences, such as hijacking sessions, defacing a site, stealing critical information, etc. Ruby on Rails is considered one of the popular web applications providing various effective mechanisms to reduce and prevent such XSS attacks. Here, we will discuss types of Cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks in Ruby on Rails and guides to prevent them. 

Let’s talk about various types of XSS attacks one by one below:

Stored XSS:

In this Stored XSS attack, malicious scripts are permanently stored or saved in the target servers as a database. So, whenever any new user visits or goes through this affected page, the in-a-result script is served with this legitimate content in the victim’s browser.

DOM-based XSS:

This attack uses the vulnerabilities in the client-side JavaScript code to change your web page’s DOM- Document object model. It usually occurs when the user’s data is used to change the DOM unsafely, leading to malicious code.

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Reflected XSS:

Such reflected XSS occurs when such malicious script is used in any URLs, and users trigger the overall execution of the script. This script is showcased to the users simply as an error message or an error search result.  As we have discussed the types of XSS attacks above now, let’s understand how Ruby on Rails developers can prevent such XSS attacks effectively in Rails applications.

Best Practices and Techniques to Prevent XSS Attacks in Ruby on Rails Applications:

Here are some key practices to Prevent XSS Attacks in Ruby on Rails Applications below :

Ensure to put sanitization:

Ensure all the users supplied data is validated properly and sanitized before it is rendered in the views. Ruby on Rails offers a built-in sanitized method to remove HTML-based tags and prevent script execution. So, it is advisable to use this method to output user-generated content.

Use Parameterized Queries:

Also, while performing database queries with users’ input, always remember to use parameterized queries or prepare statements to reduce SQL-based attacks. This method will ensure that inputs are treated as data, not executable code.

Implement a Content Security Policy:

One of the best practices is to implement a CSP- Content security policy to ensure that you do not allow all such types of content that can affect your page loading. So with this security mechanism, you can define the accepted sources for the scripts, images, and many other resources. So by allowing such trusted resources, you can reduce the upcoming risks of loading malicious scripts in the future.

Use safe APIs: 

When choosing any APIs, you must be cautious because many can affect user-generated content. For instance, if you use natural methods to bypass HTML escaping, you must ensure that the content is trusted and does not come with executable coding.

Proper security updates:

You should also keep your Ruby on Rails application up to date, and for that, you should regularly apply security updates and patches. These updates will help fix all sorts of vulnerabilities and protect your application from all CSS attacks. 

Wrap Up : 

Thus, all those mentioned above are the best ways to prevent XSS Attacks in Ruby on Rails Applications and improve the overall security of your Rails-based application. We understand that it gets crucial for the security and enhancement of applications. So, to protect your application and users from potential threats, you can get in touch with a leading Ruby on Rails development company and significantly save your application from such attacks. 

Author Bio:

Chandresh Patel is a CEO, Agile coach, and founder of Bacancy Technology. His truly entrepreneurial spirit, skillful expertise, and extensive knowledge in Agile software development services have helped the organization to achieve new heights of success. Chandresh is fronting the organization into global markets in a systematic, innovative, and collaborative way to fulfill custom software development needs and provide optimum quality.