This site is the archived OWASP Foundation Wiki and is no longer accepting Account Requests.
To view the new OWASP Foundation website, please visit

Testing for Client Side URL Redirect (OTG-CLIENT-004)

Jump to: navigation, search
This article is part of the new OWASP Testing Guide v4.
Back to the OWASP Testing Guide v4 ToC: Back to the OWASP Testing Guide Project:


This section describes how to check for Client Side URL Redirection, also known as Open Redirection. It is an input validation flaw that exists when an application accepts an user controlled input which specifies a link that leads to an external URL that could be malicious. This kind of vulnerability could be used to accomplish a phishing attack or redirect a victim to an infection page.

How to Test

This vulnerability occurs when an application accepts untrusted input that contains an URL value without sanitizing it. This URL value could cause the web application to redirect the user to another page as, for example, a malicious page controlled by the attacker.

By modifying untrusted URL input to a malicious site, an attacker may successfully launch a phishing scam and steal user credentials. Since the redirection is originated by the real application, the phishing attempts may have a more trustworthy appearance.

A phishing attack example could be the following: 

The victim that visits will be automatically redirected to where an attacker could place a fake page to steal victim's credentials.

Moreover open redirections could also be used to maliciously craft an URL that would bypass the application’s access control checks and then forward the attacker to privileged functions that they would normally not be able to access. 

Black Box testing

Black box testing for Client Side URL Redirect is not usually performed since access to the source code is always available as it needs to be sent to the client to be executed. 

Gray Box testing

Testing for Client Side URL Redirect vulnerabilities:
When testers have to manually check for this type of vulnerability they have to identify if there are client side redirections implemented in the client side code (for example in the JavaScript code).

These redirections could be implemented, for example in JavaScript, using the “window.location” object that can be used to take the browser to another page by simply assigning a string to it. (as you can see in the following snippet of code).

var redir = location.hash.substring(1); 
if (redir) 

In the previous example the script does not perform any validation of the variable “redir”, that contains the user supplied input via the query string, and in the same time does not apply any form of encoding, then this unvalidated input is passed to the windows.location object originating a URL redirection vulnerability.

This implies that an attacker could redirect the victim to a malicious site simply by submitting the following query string:

Note how, if the vulnerable code is the following:

var redir = location.hash.substring(1); 
if (redir) 

It also could be possible to inject JavaScript code, for example by submitting the following query string:

When trying to check for this kind of issues, consider that some characters are treated differently by different browsers.

Moreover always consider the possibility to try absolute URLs variants as described here:



OWASP Resources