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Building Fortify Custom Rules for Spring MVC

Looking for a Fortify rule that combines the power of structural rules with dataflow analysis capabilities? The (currently not well documented) CharacterizationRule is an awesome type of rule that will let you go beyond the restrictions of traditional dataflow analysis rules by allowing you to define dataflow parsing instructions based upon a code structural match.

Here’s an example of a rule, used against a Java Spring controller class, that will identify tainted data from parameters mapped using Spring specific annotations. This can be used to identify XSS flaws using static analysis that were only previously identified through dynamic testing.

<CharacterizationRule formatVersion="3.17" language="java">
        Function f: f.parameters contains [Variable v: v.annotations[0] matches "org.springframework.web.bind.annotation.RequestParam" ]
        TaintEntrypoint(v, {+XSS})

Used on a class similar to the following, this would essentially add the taint flag ‘XSS’ to any parameters specified with the @RequestParam mapping annotation (fully qualified class names being required) contained within the query string of the requested controller.


@RequestMapping(value = "/url")

public class PageController  {

@RequestMapping(value = "/action", method = RequestMethod.GET)

public String action(@RequestParam(value = "q", required = false) final String parameter )  {

As mentioned earlier, this type of rule is currently not fully documented but some syntax guidance is available within Fortify SCA’s structural type system documentation. You can also leverage the Fortify custom rule editor to benefit from syntax completion and XML structure validation.