haxx populi

Grails error.gsp security

by jja on

The default generated error.gsp view in Grails displays the stacktrace for any exceptions that occur. That's nice for debugging in a development environment but it is a security issue for production as it is information leakage. We can easily turn this off when not in development, and do something useful like redirect to the application homepage.


The key piece is knowing when we are in the development environment. This is mentioned briefly in the docs--- follow the api link for full details:


We can use this is in a g:if test to wrap the html in the error.gsp view:

<g:if test="${GrailsUtil.isDevelopmentEnv()}">
        <title>Grails Runtime Exception</title>


If we are in production (or test) mode, then we may want to display a generic, secure error message and redirect to the application homepage (or any page):

<% flash.message='System error occurred.' %>
<meta http-equiv="Refresh" content="0;url=<g:createLinkTo dir='/' />">

The createLinkTo with a directory of / makes a link to the application homepage. Play around with this tag (or createLink), including the absolute='true' attribute (hint: set grails.serverURL in grails-app/conf/Config.groovy). We might want to put the generic message and link in the body section too, just in case the user's browser doesn't redirect. Warning: don't add in sitemesh layouts or too much code in the createLinkTo tag. If that code generates an exception, it will throw the user into an infinite loop.


If an exception occurs in a view that has changed the content type, then the error view will be labelled with that content type. We need to change it back to HTML to be sure the error message displays in the browser (or the redirect happens). In one of my projects, I had a gsp view generating XML. An exception in the middle of this produced an error message but the browser thought it was (malformed) XML and wouldn't display it. So we need to reset the content at the top:

<% response.contentType = "text/html" %>


Attached is a complete example, modified from the Grails 1.0.3 generated file grails-app/views/error.gsp (other versions of Grails will look slightly different in the middle): error.gsp


In 1.1, g:if with the env attribute is working, so you can use:

<g:if env="development">

for the test: error_11.gsp (install as grails-app/views/error.gsp)

In 1.2, the createLinkTo tag has been deprecated in favor of resource, prompting one small change to the error.gsp file: error12.gsp

Grails 2.3.x doesn't like the g:resource tag nested inside the quotes of the meta tag, generating a GrailsTagException with the message "Attribute value quote wasn't closed". Use a string expression:

<meta http-equiv="Refresh" content="0;url=${g.resource(dir:'/')}">

There's also now an undocumented renderException tag you can try out, though it just moves some stuff from the default errors.gsp into a tag:

<g:renderException exception="${exception}" />
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