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.

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):

Recommended Fix

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.
Pervasive Open Redirect in GitLab