Enhancing Security with Strict-Dynamic

From Documentation

Enhancing Security with Strict-Dynamic

General considerations

'unsafe-eval' and 'unsafe-inline' script sources

Scripts loaded by web browsers can originate from many different types of sources, such as being loaded from an external file. Two of these sources that are important in regard to ZK's client engine are eval and inline.

'unsafe-eval' source expression

The 'unsafe-eval' source expression controls code created by evaluating strings in the client's JavaScript engine. The ZK client engine uses evaluated scripts when building client-side objects. As a result, ZK clients require access to the "eval" source.

See the MDN CSP documentation for more information.

'unsafe-inline' source expression

The 'unsafe-inline' source expression controls code declared inside `script` elements. The ZK client engine uses script elements to load itself during page creation, and to load additional library resources, such as wpd files containing widget classes.

    //This is an inline script
    function foo(){
        return "bar";

See the MDN CSP documentation for more information.

Unsecured CSP for inline and eval scripts

A simple-to-implement but unsecured way to allow ZK scripts to use the eval and inline sources types is to simply declare the 'unsafe-inline' and 'unsafe-eval' sources to be allowed in the page.

However, using this approach means that any script may be using the 'unsafe-eval' or 'unsafe-inline' sources to create code, which in turn creates opportunities for XSS attacks, which the CSP is meant to protect against.

More secure with 'strict-dynamic'

As a secure alternative to allowing all scripts to use 'unsafe-inline' and 'unsafe-eval' as allowed sources, we can use a nonce (a unique ID) declared in the CSP header to only allow properly identified scripts to be created by unsafe-inline and unsafe-eval sources.

This can be achieved using the 'strict-dynamic'.

The 'strict-dynamic' source expression specifies a nonce (or hash), which acts as a one-time-use password. Scripts on this page that have the nonce declared as an attribute will be granted the authorization to execute according to the source expression contained in the 'strict-dynamic' policy.

Response header:

    Content-Security-Policy: script-src 'strict-dynamic' 'nonce-abc123'
<script nonce="abc123">
    //This inline script can be executed since it holds a nonce matching the CSP header
    function foo(){
        return "bar";
    //This inline script cannot be executed, since it doesn't hold a nonce matching the CSP header
    function baz(){
        return "qux";

Note: When inspecting the script element from the browser's developer tools, the nonce attribute will not be visible. This is intended, as it prevents other sources from trying to obtain a valid nonce in order to bypass security during the page lifecycle.

A nonce content attribute represents a cryptographic nonce ("number used once") which can be used by Content Security Policy to determine whether or not a given fetch will be allowed to proceed. The value is text.

Elements that have a nonce content attribute ensure that the cryptographic nonce is only exposed to script (and not to side-channels like CSS attribute selectors) by taking the value from the content attribute, moving it into an internal slot named CryptographicNonce, exposing it to script via the HTMLOrSVGElement interface mixin, and setting the content attribute to the empty string. Unless otherwise specified, the slot's value is the empty string.

Trust propagation

Scripts that are trusted using 'strict-dynamic' may load additional scripts, which receive the same trust, as described in the MDN documentation.

The 'strict-dynamic' source expression specifies that the trust explicitly given to a script present in the markup, by accompanying it with a nonce or a hash, shall be propagated to all the scripts loaded by that root script

This is convenient for the purpose of securing ZK scripts. We can provide a valid nonce on scripts loaded during the initial page response, and the trust given to these scripts will be propagated to additional resources loaded by them.

Creating a ZK CSP filter

All code referenced in this section is available on the matching Github project.

Java class

In order to automatically add the nonce to the response headers and to the initial page response content, we can create a servlet filter. This filter should intercept all document requests (page loads) and create a nonce. This nonce is then used to declare a response header containing the strict-dynamic CSP expression. We also need to insert the nonce in each script element generated by the page.

building the nonce, and adding it to the page response

This happens in two steps. First, we capture the original page response content:

    CapturingResponseWrapper capturingResponseWrapper = new CapturingResponseWrapper((HttpServletResponse) response);
    chain.doFilter(request, capturingResponseWrapper);
    String content = capturingResponseWrapper.getCaptureAsString();

Then, we add the nonce to the script element, write the content to the actual httpResponse, and set the CSP header to the response.

    String replacedContent = content.replaceAll("(?i)<script(\\s)*","<script nonce=\"" + hex + "\"");
    ((HttpServletResponse) response).addHeader("Content-Security-Policy", String.format(cspHeader, hex));

compressing the response after update

Since we disabled response compression at layout servlet level, we can recompress the response content before writing it to the response.

    // Do gzip after CSP rewriting
    byte[] data = replacedContent.getBytes(response.getCharacterEncoding());
    if (data.length > 200) {
        byte[] bs = Https.gzip((HttpServletRequest)request, (HttpServletResponse)response, null, data);
        if (bs != null)
             data = bs; //yes, browser support compress


See full class in github.

Disable the Response Compression

In order to capture the uncompressed response content, we need to disable the response compression in DHtmlLayoutServlet:


    <description>ZK loader for ZUML pages</description>

This allows the capture wrapper in the filter before being compressed.

See here

We can then declare our filter, and set filter-mapping entries for ZK documents returned by the ZK layout servlet.


See web.xml in github.

resulting page response

As a result, the page response should contain both a CSP header including our nonce, as well as a nonce on all script elements generated by the ZK page.

CSP Header Screenshot
CSP Nonce on script


  • Using CSP strict-dynamic disables script caching

Last Update : 2024/05/17

Copyright © Potix Corporation. This article is licensed under GNU Free Documentation License.