HOW  XSS attack handled by different PHP frameworks?

As we know PHP is Open Source, so we can play over it. It also has list of Frameworks to follow for web development.But, while doing development we have to take care about XSS attacks. Now, Question arrise 🙂

What  is XSS?

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks are a type of injection, in which malicious scripts are injected into trusted web sites. XSS attacks occur when an attacker uses a web application to send malicious code, generally in form of a browser side script, to a different end user. These attacks can occur anywhere a web application uses input from a user within the output it generates without validating or encoding it.

An attacker can use XSS to send a malicious script to an unsuspecting user. The end user’s browser has no way to know that the script should not be trusted, and will execute the script. Because it thinks the script came from a trusted source, the malicious script can access any cookies, session tokens, or other sensitive information retained by the browser and used with that site. These scripts can even rewrite the content of the HTML page.

Basically, there are two types of XSS attacks:
1.) Stored: due to malicious code is saved on the server, and then sent to the end users, without proper encoding
2.) Reflected: due to malicious code is usually sent to the server in GET or POST parameters in http request, and the server returns that code in response, without proper encoding
It can be protect with :
a.) Filter input, escape output
b.) character encoding

How PHP FramWorks Handle XSS?
  • Yii– output escaping with integrated HTMLPurifier
  • Kohana2 – input filtering / global XSS filter
  • Kohana3 – input filtering, they recommend output escaping with HTMLPurifier, but it’s not included
  • CakePHP – offered a utility called Sanitize, but it is deprecated as of CakePHP 2.4 and will be removed in CakePHP 3.0
  • CodeIgniter – input filtering / global XSS filter
  • Zend Framework – custom output escaping
  • HTMLPurifier is a great solution when you need to display clean HTML that came from untrusted source, but for escaping every piece of data, which won’t be displayed as HTML, is overkill.
  • Global XSS filtering is a very bad idea, beacuse of the reason we mentioned above, you don’t know in which context the data will be used.
  • Sanitize : add() – Sanitize the data in the controller before saving
    beforeSave() – Sanitize the data in the model callback before saving
    afterFind() – Sanitize the data in the model callback after finding
  • OWASP has good security encoding library, but unfortunately, PHP version is not complete yet. They have a good reference for this matter. View
<body><?php echo htmlencode($untrusted_var); ?></data>
<input value=”<?php echo htmlencode($untrusted_var); ?>” />
While we can in most cases just use php’s htmlentities function.
So, it’s better to write custom wrapper functions, so we can change code only in one place if, for example, we want to add additional filtering or switch to another library.
function htmlencode($str) {
    $str = HTMLPurifier_Encoder::cleanUTF8($str);
    $str = htmlspecialchars($str, ENT_QUOTES, ‘UTF-8’);
    return $str;
This function will encode all html characters and prevent breaking the context.
If you need to write user data which contains html, HTMLPurifier will do the job.
I hope this will help you to understand XSS and to use it in your web development eailsy. 🙂
Enjoy Coding!