17 Oct 2017

Pervasive Open Redirect in GitLab

While performing a code review of the GitLab open source codebase, I found a pervasive open redirect vulnerability affecting project pages.

The Project Application controller defines a before_action filter named redirect_git_extension. This filter attempts to detect and remove the git extension that may appear in a project request’s URI. In order to do this, it calls the Ruby on Rails redirect_to method with the original request’s params object.

skip_before_action :authenticate_user!
before_action :redirect_git_extension

The redirect_to method is defined as follows.

  def redirect_git_extension
    # Redirect from
    #   localhost/group/project.git
    # to
    #   localhost/group/project
    redirect_to url_for(params.merge(format: nil)) if params[:format] == 'git'

Due to the requester having control over the params object, the redirect_to method can be called with arbitrary options. For a list of accepted options in the latest version of Ruby on Rails, please see:



An attacker can supply options such as host and protocol to change the target of the redirect, thereby redirecting a user to an arbitrary domain.

There are many controllers that inherit from the Project Application controller. All actions of these controllers are potentially vulnerable due to the affected before_action filter being called. Some affected controller actions also do not require authentication, such as the Project controller’s index action.

An attacker can exploit an open redirect vulnerability in a phishing attack to trick users into trusting a malicious third-party webpage. This is because users who click on a link may not notice a redirect taking place, especially if the two domains look similar. As a result, a victim may unknowingly enter their login credentials on an attacker-controlled webpage.


The following reproduction demonstrates an unauthenticated user hitting the Project controller’s index action and getting redirected to an attacker-supplied domain (in this case example.com):

HTTP Request:
GET /projects.git?host=example.com HTTP/1.1
HTTP Response:
HTTP/1.1 302 Found
Server: nginx
Date: Mon, 11 Sep 2017 00:02:09 GMT
Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8
Content-Length: 93
Connection: keep-alive
Cache-Control: no-cache
Location: http://example.com/projects
X-Content-Type-Options: nosniff
X-Frame-Options: DENY
X-Request-Id: 94a18532-dc37-4d6d-b124-f752b809ff57
X-Runtime: 0.009936
X-Ua-Compatible: IE=edge
X-Xss-Protection: 1; mode=block
Strict-Transport-Security: max-age=31536000

You are being <a href="http://example.com/projects">redirected</a>.

Rather than invoking the url_for method with a user-controllable params object, it is recommended that a modified version of the requested URI string be redirected to instead. By properly parsing the requested URI string of its extension, a version without the git extension can then be securely redirected to.


  • 09/10/2017 - Issue submitted to GitLab via HackerOne.
  • 09/11/2017 - GitLab communicates that the issue has been reproduced and triaged.
  • 10/11/2017 - GitLab communicates that a patch is ready and will be included in an upcoming security release.
  • 10/17/2017 - GitLab publishes a security release that patches this issue. Users are advised to update.